Matteo Guendouzi got his first minutes for Hertha Berlin on Sunday as they drew 1-1 at home with Wolfsburg and the Arsenal midfielder seems pretty happy to have made the switch.

BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 01: Matteo Guendouzi of Hertha BSC is challenged by Felix Klaus of VfL Wolfsburg during the Bundesliga match between Hertha BSC and VfL Wolfsburg at Olympiastadion on November 01, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)
BERLIN, GERMANY – NOVEMBER 01: Matteo Guendouzi of Hertha BSC is challenged by Felix Klaus of VfL Wolfsburg during the Bundesliga match between Hertha BSC and VfL Wolfsburg at Olympiastadion on November 01, 2020 in Berlin, Germany. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Getty Images)

Guendouzi came on as a second half substitute and played 33 minutes, completing 18 of his 19 passes, touching the ball 29 times and getting himself involved in seven duels, three of which he won. He also tried four dribbles (50% success rate), made four recoveries and two interceptions.

With the score already 1-1 when he was introduced, it’s fair to say it wasn’t a bad debut.

Speaking before the match, the 21-year-old explained why he had left Arsenal on loan and how happy he was to be in Berlin where everything is apparently ‘perfect’.

“It’s a very good German club, with great ambitions,” Guendouzi said. “I left on loan for a year there, I will give everything for this club.

“I needed time to play, to play, to have fun on the pitch. That’s what I’m going to do this year. I needed to play this year. I’m still young, I’m only 21. Playing time is essential for me.

“I know that by going there I will be able to express myself in a magnificent championship.

“Everything is perfect.”

Matteo Guendouzi’s Arsenal future

Matteo Guendouzi with Hertha BSC (Photo via Hertha on Twitter)
Matteo Guendouzi with Hertha BSC (Photo via Hertha on Twitter)

Guendouzi left Arsenal for Hertha on deadline day, joining on a season-long loan after various attempts at a permanent swap deal led nowhere.

Some speculate that he won’t play another game for the Gunners, particularly in the wake of Mesut Özil’s exclusion. However, Guendouzi denies that a future with Arsenal is now impossible.

“It is not that, I just really needed to play this year, a new challenge,” Guendouzi said (via GFFN). “That was the most important thing for me. I am still young, I am only 21, so playing time was the top priority for me.

“So Hertha Berlin, I know that I will be able to express myself in a magnificent league.”

Even if he never wants to play for Arsenal again, it’s important he keeps up the illusion that he might. That will help the club in negotiations next summer.

More than that, he might really want to make a positive return to North London. We shouldn’t close off that possibility, as a year away for such a young player could still turn things around for him with his parent club.

For now, he just needs to make a positive start to life with Hertha in Germany. That’s in everyone’s interests.

A few weeks back, France Football reported that Hertha BSC took Matteo Guendouzi on loan with an option to buy at the end of the season. They also expect the midfielder to start regularly for Hertha. At the time of writing, Guendouzi had only just made his debut for Hertha Berlin after having to quarantine following a positive Covid test.

It should be stressed that a report of an option to buy very much goes against every single other report we’ve heard so far.

Foot Mercato and GFFN claimed that it was ‘crucial’ for the player’s camp that there wasn’t an option to buy. Charles Watts of Goal reported that the deal wouldn’t include an option to make the move permanent.

The Athletic wrote that “neither club has indicated that there is an option to buy”. It’s pretty difficult to find any source other than France Football reporting that there is one.

Still, it’s a report worth covering because journalists do get these things wrong sometimes. There were plenty of reports that Lucas Torreira had an option to buy in his Atletico Madrid deal before his agent spoke out to deny it.

So, if you’re a Guendouzi fan, I wouldn’t get too worried just yet. But it’s one to keep an eye on the next time we hear from the player or his agent.

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