Aston Villa boss Unai Emery is scouring the January transfer market in search of quality acquisitions to bolster his side’s prospects of establishing a competitive edge within the Premier League, with a new phenom distinguished.
Marseille’s Matteo Guendouzi has been identified as the perfect fit to complete the jigsaw at the heart of the Villa midfield, with the former Arsenal ace impressing during his time in the French Ligue 1.
The report continues to allude to Marseille officials holding the belief that Emery, who signed and managed Guendouzi at the Gunners, is the manager with interest in his signature, and a move could materialise over the next few weeks.
Guendouzi did not quite find his feet after signing for Arsenal in an £8m deal in 2018, at just 19 years old.
He made 82 total appearances for the Gunners, scoring one goal and registering five assists, but was shifted towards a series of loan moves after being alienated by Mikel Arteta, before signing for Marseille on a permanent £9m deal in 2021.
Speaking to The Athletic, former Arsenal performance director Dan Burgess said: “When he arrived, from a physical perspective he certainly wasn’t in a position to play in central midfield for a top-six Premier League club.
“He worked really hard at improving himself physically so that by the end of that first year, he was absolutely capable. He showed massive improvement.”
There is now a belief within the Villa camp that the 23-year-old can flourish as a centrepiece within a top-flight project in England, with the £35m-rated ace’s performances in France and his inclusion within Didier Deschamps’ 2022 World Cup squad indicators that increment to his game has expanded year-by-year.
Now having made 78 appearances for Marseille, his eight goals and 17 assists affirm an upgrade in proficiency, while his impressive 7.00 and 6.88 ratings over the past two campaigns are further evidence of a maturing confidence and ability on the field.
As per FBref, the maestro ranks within the top 11% of midfielders in Europe’s top leagues for touches in the attacking penalty area and the top 9% for progressive passes received, illustrating his growing offensive presence on the pitch – and his assured average 85.2% pass accuracy is certainly not to be sniffed at.
He bears striking similarities to legendary Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric, with the Croatian indeed Guendouzi’s most comparable player on FBref, and could now start to grow into a role of the 37-year-old’s mould.
Modric, 2019 Ballon d’Or winner and five-time Champions League victor, has forged 456 displays for Los Blancos, scoring 36 goals and 74 assists as the supreme orchestrator in the middle, with his composed presence and knack for instigating offensive manoeuvres two traits that Guendouzi can hope to nurture to continue to draw comparisons.
And with the 162-cap Modric’s average career passing accuracy of 88.9%, Guendouzi will need to develop his ball-playing ability even further to finally emerge as one of the hottest midfield prospects in world football.
Already praised for his “masterclass” performances, the French ace can pave the foundation for a prosperous career at a highly ambitious and competitive Villan outfit, and with Emery at the helm, the partnership could result in devastating consequences for opposing teams.