Matteo Guendouzi has admitted even he is surprised by how quickly he’s broken into the Arsenal first-team, given nobody knew who he was a year ago.
Guendouzi is a very rare example of a player going from Ligue 2 to Premier League football without any adaptation period whatsoever. The midfielder was in Arsenal’s starting lineup from the first day of the season, and he’s only briefly left it since then, making 33 appearances in all competitions already.
The player himself says it wasn’t what he expected, because he knew he wasn’t a household name when the transfer was announced.
“Let’s be honest, apart from the players here who follow a bit of the French leagues, no one had ever heard of me,” Guendouzi said (via Standard). “So it was very important for me to show what I was capable of as early as possible. I had a chance during the pre-season tour and I took it. I showed I could be part of this team.”
Even so, the midfielder admits he still didn’t expect to end up as a regular feature of the Arsenal side so soon, and it’s all been a bit of a surprise to him.
“I still didn’t expect to play so much because I know I’m at a top club with great players,” he continued. “I’m a bit surprised that everything has been going so well. I’ve played well when I’ve featured. I think I showed that I could bring something to the team.
“I am very happy with how things have gone for me at the club so far and if I can keep playing as much in the second half of the season, it would be great.”
A key factor in Guendouzi’s success so far is the faith that Emery has shown in him. At first, he could’ve left the midfielder out for being too inexperienced. Then, when the 19-year-old had a bad game or two, he could’ve been dropped to the bench with little hope of a return.
Instead, the Spaniard has stuck by his summer signing all season until now. Guendouzi is well aware of how lucky he is to have a manager who supported him like that.
“I owe him a lot because he has trusted me from the beginning,” the former Lorient man said. “He has a lot of faith in me and it is boosting my confidence. To give so much playing time to a 19-year-old at Arsenal is rare.
“I always want to repay his faith by doing well on the pitch. I have much more to learn with him. We talk a lot, he gives me a lot of advice on my positioning, playing forward. I can feel how much better I am now compared to the start of the season. I know all the teams we face better. I know myself better and my game is stronger.”
Hopefully, the benefits of that progress will be big for Guendouzi and Arsenal. If the midfielder can keep developing for the next few years he could have a long Premier League career, and he’ll quickly become one of the most sought-after young stars in the division.