After that incident against Brighton at the back end of last season, it was no surprise to see Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta read the riot act to Matteo Guendouzi.
The Frenchman had allegedly taunted the Seagulls about his superior wages, and was then caught grabbing Neal Maupay by the throat after the game had ended.
For some, it may have been seen as the kind of fighting spirit and edge that the Gunners have lacked for a number of years. For others, and perhaps most importantly, for Arteta himself, he saw it as indiscipline that needed stamping out.
Reports suggested that Guendouzi wasn’t in the mood to start apologising, and the former Lorient starlet eventually found himself out of his manager’s plans both for the short and long-term, with it being confirmed that he would be spending the new season out on loan at Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin.
And whilst he is only just beginning to find his feet with his new club, his performance a couple of days ago in France U21’s 3-1 win over Switzerland proved that Arteta may have made a really hasty call on the Gunners’ 21-year-old.
Get French Football News described his performance as a “masterclass” and pointed to the way he kept trying to hunt the ball down even in the dying moments of the game despite his team being down to ten men – his efforts were rewarded as he pinched the ball back and set up the third goal.
Mattéo Guendouzi with a masterclass tonight for France’s U21s – intensity of pressing phenomenal in the dying embers of this match, with Les Bleuets playing with 10 men for over 30 mins owing to Colin Dagba’s red card.
— Get French Football News (@GFFN) November 16, 2020
Described as a “pure talent” by one of his former teammates, Guendouzi made an error with his actions over the summer, but that is to be expected from someone of his age and with the kind of meteoric rise he has enjoyed since joining from a side in France’s second division.
What he desperately needed was for a manager to be strong, but fair, on him, instead of being ruthless and cold. Guendouzi is showing just what he can do if given a chance.