How Talented is Matteo Guendouzi anyway?
After famed sporting director Luis Campos’ comment on Matteo Guendouzi, many Arsenal fans are once again wondering why we are letting a young midfielder with the Luis Campos seal of approval go.
I don’t want to rehash the issues surrounding Guendouzi anymore. They are real and problematic and even Campos said his maturity may be a bit lacking. That aside, however, how good is Matteo Guendouzi in terms of raw talent?
Matteo Guendouzi is not an advanced midfielder. He is mostly a phase specialist like Granit Xhaka who is mostly involved in what happens deep in our defensive zone and our side of the midfield. Guendouzi has a brilliant range and quality of passing for starters, along with decent dribbling ability. Those passes however mostly help to circulate and progress the ball to the opposition area. Apart from that, Guendouzi has great mental fortitude, with buckets of self-belief which makes him stand out. He is also a willing defender and is not afraid to put in a tackle or intercept the ball. He is not however exceptional in this regard.
His on-field weaknesses include a tendency to hold on to the ball for too long in dangerous areas trying to win a foul. He is very undisciplined positionally as well and is always attracted to the ball. His lack of serious athleticism also makes him unsuitable to stop or prevent counter attacks in the physical English league. Coupled with his positioning issues, he can sometimes be a disaster in turnover situations.
The best thing about Guendouzi is his passing but that is not enough for being a deep midfielder at a top club. He will need to massively improve his positioning and athleticism to make it at a top club. A comparable talent is Billy Gilmour of Chelsea who is vastly more mobile, better positionally, just as good a passer, a better dictator of the flow of the game and almost never loses the ball, and is still expected to go out on loan next season. Meanwhile, Arsenal fans wanted Guendouzi to start in our first team. That is quite poor for a fan base who only some few years ago, enjoyed some of the best midfielders in the world.
Guendouzi is a great talent but will never make it to the top without fixing several aspects of his game and Arsenal were completely right to cash in on him while they could. Lower clubs may have the time, space and opportunities needed to develop him. But not Arsenal who are in a rebuild. His transfer fee will go towards securing the signing of Albert Lokonga who is a superior talent at the same age, the captain of Belgium’s premier football club and simply has more ‘Arsenal’ to his football. That is not a bad situation at all, especially in exchange for a certain French midfielder with whom we only had a 39% win rate when he starts.