It’s time to move on from Guendouzi… by Rafi
The right attitude seems to go hand in hand with talent and skillset in Mikel Arteta’s plan for this Arsenal team. Matteo Guendouzi has proven time and time again that he cannot carry himself with a sense of professionalism, whether it’s on the field, in his fiery interviews, in the dressing room or even through his social media handles.
Yes, he’s a wonderful footballer. Yes, he is still only 20 years of age. Yes, he has been one of the best players for Marseille this season. But talent, believe it or not, can be replaced. And at this point, I only see him as an asset that we can sell and fund other important signings. I have not been impressed by his childish antics on the field against Brighton, and neither have I been impressed by his reluctance to apologise ever since.
It’s hard to forget his cryptic digs at the manager while replying to Mesut Ozil on twitter. Pal Dardai, Matteo’s manager at Hertha Berlin likened coaching him to dealing with an “adolescent going through puberty”.
He did not even have the courtesy to congratulate his teammates after winning the FA Cup in 2020.
When a player draws criticism for bad behaviour everywhere he goes, it is a red flag too big for us to ignore, irrespective of how promising their future looks. Remember Mario Balotelli? He was once seen by many to have had the potential to be the greatest player of this generation. But his tendency to be immature and unprofessional would repeatedly put him through all sorts of trouble on and off the field. From being a Champions League winner at the age of 20, he ended up playing in the Italian second division at 30, and is currently 31, playing in the Turkish Super Lig.
Mikel Arteta is not as merciless as the media often makes him out to be. Ainsley Maitland-Niles would not have expected to wear the Arsenal shirt ever again after his Instagram story complaining about the minutes he was getting to play. But in a space of 2 months, he has set aside his differences with the manager, has been playing in his favourite position, and is contributing adequately when depth is required in central midfield.
I do not have any problems with Guendouzi returning if he can change his ways. As a matter of fact, I enjoy watching him do well for Marseille because he is such a joy to watch. However, he keeps letting the fans, his teammates, and his coaches down with his recklessness and lack of respect. As I have done countless times in the past, I sincerely hope we get a refined player in Guendouzi as soon as possible.
Otherwise, I’m afraid it would only be sensible to show Guendouzi the door next summer.