When Matteo Guendouzi joined Arsenal from Lorient in the summer of 2018, his signing was meant to be one for the future.
Unai Emery made him one of his first signings at £8million, joining with Lucas Torreira, Sokratis, Bernd Leno and Stephan Lichtsteiner as the Spaniard began a brave new dawn in north London.
Arsenal fans believed Guendouzi would be used sparingly in his first season but Emery showed faith in him from the off, sticking him in the starting XI against reigning champions Manchester City on the first day of the 2018-19 campaign.
Matteo Guendouzi has struggled for regular game time at Arsenal under Mikel Arteta
The French youngster has played just three full matches for the Gunners under the Spaniard
Just the season before, Guendouzi was playing in France’s second division but all of a sudden, he was pitting himself against the best players in world football. He showed plenty of encouraging signs and Emery continued to reward his courage, energy and perseverance in the heart of midfield.
The 21-year-old, who was taken under the wings by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, racked up a staggering 48 appearances in his first season at Arsenal and had emerged as one of the brightest talents in Europe.
He would eventually earn his first France call-up in September 2019 (the same month he was voted Arsenal’s Player of the Month) – his career had developed at a rate way beyond his wildest imaginations.
Everything Guendouzi touched was turning into gold and Arsenal appeared to have a real gem on their hands.
But fast forward just two months later and Guendouzi has been brought abruptly back down to earth.
Mikel Arteta was tasked with reviving Arsenal following an awful start to the season, and with his appointment came a streak of ruthlessness.
Arteta – who won the FA Cup twice as a player with the Gunners – was no longer letting players rest on their laurels and every single player had a point to prove to stake their claim.
He was axed from the squad to face Newcastle after a bad attitude during Dubai training camp
The Gunners have recently been linked with a move for Atletico Madrid star Thomas Partey
And Guendouzi has since fallen victim to Arteta’s strict regime, seemingly becoming a bit-part player under the Spaniard.
Following his arrival in December, with Arsenal languishing 10th in the Premier League, Arteta instilled the importance of discipline and work-rate into his team but the Frenchman appears to have fallen foul of his manager’s philosophy.
Guendouzi, who is certainly not shy in confidence or exuberance, got on the wrong side of his new manager during a winter training camp in Dubai.
Arteta was unhappy with the talented midfielder’s bad attitude during the Dubai camp – which was seen as vital to the Gunners in the bid to revive their atrocious season.
And Guendouzi was subsequently axed from Arsenal’s squad against Newcastle on February 16, which the Gunners went on to emphatically win 4-0.
It was a statement of intent from Arteta – if you don’t adhere to his philosophy and structure, you would pay the price.
The Spaniard selects his matchday squad based on performance during training the week before.
Guendouzi had thrived during his first season at the club following his arrival from Lorient
And the fact that Guendouzi has played just three full matches under Arteta plays evidence to the idea that the Frenchman hasn’t impressed his boss.
After such a golden start to his spell in north London, Guendouzi now appears to be fighting for his future at the club and with the summer transfer window coming up, he faces a very anxious wait.
Arsenal have been linked with a £43.5million move for Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey, who has shone under Diego Simeone this season to help the club reach the Champions League quarter-finals.
A report from Italian publication Corriere dello Sport claims the Ghanaian star is just ‘one step away’ from making the move to the Emirates.
Arteta is desperately seeking midfield reinforcements at Arsenal and is on the hunt for a reliable presence that can strengthen the side’s backbone in their quest to grab their place among England’s elite again.
Partey’s potential arrival would be a major coup for Arteta, but he has admitted he has different plans for Arsenal over the summer due to the coronavirus pandemic that has decimated the football calendar.
The 21-year-old was thrown straight into the deep end by former manager Unai Emery
‘I’m planning two or three different scenarios that we can face,’ he revealed. ‘Depending on one of those three, we will be able to do more, less or nothing.
‘We have to react daily. We don’t know what the financial situation is going to be, we don’t know the rules, the timing, the window. There are so many things we cannot control at the moment.’
Everything is up in the air at the moment but if Arsenal were to land the statement signing of Partey, then Guendouzi would be left in limbo too.
After starting life in the fast lane at the Emirates, Guendouzi could soon be heading towards the exit doors if he isn’t careful.
The 21-year-old has plenty to learn both on and off the pitch, but if he closely follows Arteta’s orders, he certainly can still revive his Arsenal career and have one hell of a future.