Mikel Arteta’s stubbornness cost Gunners ‘one of the world’s elite midfielders’, as a permanent transfer nears for the 22-year-old star.
The Gunners have been, in the main, upwardly mobile under Arteta this season. He has managed to craft an excellent young side which, until recently, looked well placed to secure a top-four finish this season.
Recent defeats to Crystal Palace and Brighton have, however, dampened their spirits.
But a Champions League spot is still in Arsenal’s hands with a crucial match against nearest challengers Tottenham still to come.
Indeed, strengthening their midfield and attack this summer looks a major priority of Arteta’s.
However, a number of sales of players Arteta does not rate will improve their transfer funds. Lucas Torreira, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Alex Runarsson, and Hector Bellerin are all expected to leave the club.
The departure of Guendouzi, on the other hand, is likely to be the most contentious.
His performance in Ligue 1 has improved dramatically.
Guendouzi has been so impressive that Marseille coach Jorge Sampaoli believes he will soon be considered one of the top midfielders in the world.
Mikel Arteta’s stubbornness cost Arsenal Guendouzi
“He [Guendouzi] is on his way to becoming one of the best midfielders in the world,” the coach beamed.
And that brings into focus a question mark over Arteta’s stubborness once players fall foul of his strict disciplinary lines.
That was in evidence more recently when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was quickly pushed out, and ultimately sold by, Arsenal.
The relationship between Guendouzi and Arteta has been documented. During Project Restart, Guendouzi had an ugly clash with Brighton’s Neale Maupay, for which Arteta was furious.
An altercation over a mid-season trip to Dubai only worsened the situation for Guendouzi, who was promptly loaned out to Hertha Berlin.
Then, when back at Arsenal, he was allowed to move again, this time to Marseille.
Now it seems the relationship is over for good, with all parties seemingly in agreement.
Sampaoli beaming over Guendouzi
Speaking earlier this season, the Marseille boss raved about his abilities.
“Guendouzi’s physical condition is exceptional. He can recover very quickly, he has less risk of injury,” Sampaoli explained.
“He also managed to impose himself, which can be seen with his selection for the France team. Finally, he is the soul of the team. He hasn’t progressed thanks to me, it’s in general, he has matured.”
The Gunners could certainly have done with Guendouzi of late. Thomas Partey’s thigh injury appears to have come at the worst possible time.
His place in the team was taken by Albert Sambi Lokonga on Saturday against Brighton, but he failed to hit the same heights.