Matteo Guendouzi convinced Unai Emery to give him a chance in the team from his very first day with Arsenal, by deciding to join pre-season training over his national team.
Immediately after Guendouzi signed for Arsenal, he had the chance to join the France u19 squad for the UEFA European Under-19 Championship in Finland. However, the youngster instead made the decision to stay in North London and train with his new club teammates.
Unai Emery explained that this was a boost for the player’s chances in the team.
“The first impression from him is very good,” Emery told Standard Sport. “We saw this from the first weeks of pre-season when he arrived here and started training.
“For example, his very big decision to decide not to play with the national team in the summer because he wanted to stay and work with us to show his capacity in pre-season. He earned the possibility to take minutes in the first XI.”
As a result of his decision, the 19-year-old played a heavy part in Arsenal’s pre-season matches. With Lucas Torreira and Granit Xhaka playing in the World Cup over the summer, both returned to training fairly late on, meaning Guendouzi was the most prepared for the opening competitive matches and kept his place.
Emery says he’s remained impressed with how the French youngster has done this season.
“His adaptation was very quick. Now his progress is very good. He is very young. We played with Lucas Torreira and Guendouzi as midfielders at Manchester City. He is a very young player, his present is very good but his ambition is to grow a lot with us and become an important Premier League player.”
For a teenager making the transition from Ligue 2 to the Premier League, Guendouzi has had a fantastic first season. He’s already made over 30 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal, and he’s likely to make many more before the summer.
Let’s hope he keeps performing to a high standard and helps Arsenal back to Champions League football to top off his debut campaign.