The French starlet Arsenal let go: "I didn't have the best relationship with Arteta"
He looked set to be the next great Arsenal midfielder but things didn't pan out
Matteo Guendouzi has opened up about the reasons that led to his departure from Arsenal. The French midfielder was one of Mikel Arteta's first "victims" as Gunners boss. Now, with the North London side flying high in the Premier League and Guendouzi enjoying a good start to the season with Olympique Marseille, he spoke about his departure.
Guendouzi had shined in his first season with the Gunners under Unai Emery. However, by the time Mikel Arteta arrived at Arsenal, his performances had suffered, and some of his attitudes on the pitched were being called into question. After his infamous altercation with Brighton's Neal Maupay in the summer of 2020, where he grabbed the striker by the neck, Arteta decided he had had enough. The French midfielder was sent out on loan twice, first to a struggling Hertha Berlin, and then to Olympique Marseille, where he's made his move permament in a £9 million switch.
"Journalists used [the Maupay incident] to say that we had a bad relationship and that's why I stopped playing and left Arsenal", told Guendouzi in an interview with BeIN Sports, "Not at all. It's a gesture like many on the pitch. There's a lot of tension sometimes, a lot of problems on the pitch. In any case, it has nothing to do with all that".
However, the French midfielder admitted his relationship with Arteta wasn't the best: "It's true that I didn't have the best relationship with him. Beyond that, I always tried to work, always gave the maximum of myself in training and in matches. I still played a few matches with him, I still put in great performances".
"He preferred other players and I respect that decision", admitted Matteo Guendouzi, who faced competition from Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland Niles and Dani Ceballos, "That's why, afterwards, I also decided to leave because I was still young, I needed playing time to continue to progress. The most important thing when you're young is to play".