This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Matteo Guendouzi has opened up about the way in which karate has helped build his mentality, as reported on Arsenal’s official channels.
The Frenchman has been an integral player for Arsenal this season, playing in all 12 of their Premier League games so far.
He has worked hard defensively, making 1.7 tackles, 1.3 interceptions and 1.5 clearances per game.
The 20-year-old has also been making an impact on the ball, averaging 1.6 dribbles per game and completing 88.1% of his passes.
Speaking to the Gunners’ official channels, Guendouzi discussed how karate has helped his football career: “I think it really helped me in terms of my mentality, being a fighter on the pitch, and always wanting to win and get stuck into duels in a bid to really help the team.
“Karate has helped me a lot in that regard. When I was young, I came third in a karate competition in France, which was great, but it was difficult to combine football and karate.
“I certainly have very fond memories from doing karate. In terms of flexibility. I’d say I’m more flexible on the pitch which is a great help.
“As for my fitness, karate is very intense, so I think that’s why I’m able to make such a big effort and have that warrior-like mentality.”
There are suggestions of mental fragility within the Arsenal dressing room, so it is vital that there are strong characters present who can help lift the team.
FFC have already claimed that Guendouzi can become a leader in the midfield following recent events surrounding Granit Xhaka, and these comments certainly support that point.
It can even be argued that the midfielder, who is rated at £40.5m on Transfermarkt, has shown his leadership credentials already, with Adrian Clarke writing for the Premier League: “His form has been outstanding in this second season, with his enthusiasm, drive and precocious leadership qualities rubbing off positively on his team-mates.”
His mentality could prove to be very important for the club moving forward, especially as he is only 20-years-old and has plenty of scope for further improvement.