Matteo Guendouzi has been called up for French national team for the first time as he replaces the injured Paul Pogba for Les Blues friendlies against Albania and Andorra. It has been a remarkable rise for the youngster who was plying his trade in the French second division just over a year ago. So who is Matteo Guendouzi? What are his main strengths? Find out this and much more:
Matteo Guendouzi was born in Poissy, a suburb of Paris on 14th April 1999. He was also eligible to play for Morocco as his parents come from Moroccan heritage but he declined the offer in favor of a career with the French national team. The 20-year midfielder currently plays for Arsenal having joined them from Lorient in the 2018 summer transfer window.
Matteo Guendouzi, like many other talented youngsters around Paris, joined the PSG academy at the age of six. After realizing the difficulty in achieving a clear pathway to the PSG first team, he moved to Lorient at the age of 15. He made a total of 26 appearances for the Les Merlus with 21 of them coming in Ligue 2. Guendouzi joined Arsenal on 11th July 2018 for a fee of around $10 million and showed enough promise in the pre-season to impress Unai Emery. He was rewarded with his start against Manchester City in the gunners opening game of the 2018/19 season. Since then, he has gone to make more than 50 appearances for Arsenal.
Matteo Guendouzi is an energetic and dynamic central midfielder. He is usually deployed in the base of the midfield, where he can receive passes from the central defenders and distribute it. Guendouzi is extremely talented and equally confident in his own abilities. This was evident in his first start where he had 72 touches against the defending champions Manchester City.
It is slightly expected for a 20-year-old but Guendouzi’s energy levels are one of his key strengths. This has helped him make a seamless transition from Ligue 2 to the Premier League. His self-confidence is visible during games as he runs all around the pitch to make himself available for his teammates. He is tidy on the ball and has a good range of passing. Matteo’s ability to progress the ball from midfield is extremely good and he tends to make the right decision most of the time. While his awareness is not something which can be doubted, he does relies on blocking the ball to earn free-kicks when he has been put under pressure. He usually opens up his body while receiving passes to make forward passes but it often provides him with less time for doing so.
Having had an impressive debut season in the Premier League and make a seamless switch from Lorient to Arsenal, Matteo Guendouzi’s rise has been quite big. In a list released by the CIES Football Observatory in 2018, Guendouzi was ranked as the second most valuable U20 player in Europe behind Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho. If he continues this trajectory, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him become one of the best midfielders in Europe within a few years time. Arsenal also understands the talent they have on their hands and hence they have offered Matteo Guendouzi a new contract which will see his wages increase from $25,000 per week to $70,000 per week.