Guendouzi’s Destiny Under Arteta
For all his time spent underneath Pep Guardiola, Mikel Arteta’s tactics at Arsenal so far have not been fully classic Pep-ball. There’s the appearance of the inverted fullback. A very advanced leftback playing like a winger. An attacking midfielder who generally occupies the halfspace. An inside forward. A ball-playing defender who is vital to the attack.
Despite that, we still have not gone fully into the Guardiola system of football. We use two deep-lying midfielders, for example. There isn’t a pivoté, a la Sergio Busquets, per se. How much of this remaining difference of tactics is due to the available profile of players and/or Arteta’s own tactical system is not clear as of yet.
But the addition of Cedric Soares indicates that Arteta desires to play with two natural fullbacks, and possibly then, a pivoté.
The existence of a pivoté in Arteta’s ultimate tactical system is where Matteo Guendouzi’s possible future lies. He has all the base qualities required for a pivoté: passing range, ability to dribble and win fouls in tight spaces, tackling, the required mentality of taking one for the team. He’s not the complete product, yet, of course. Some things can still be improved. Like his marking and positioning for example. But at only 21, he’s a remarkable talent who can go on to greater things.
If 35 million euros gets you Granit Xhaka in today’s market for pivotés and only double of that would get you the gold-standard in Rodri, then we might be better off moulding Guendouzi into the pivoté he was born to be.
If anything, his performance in the North London derby where he completely dominated the midfield, his infamous last-ditch tackle against Wilfred Zaha, and his constant appearances near the top of ball-progressing stats show that the large-haired youngster can be our dream pivoté, fashioned in the old Arsenal way.