Matteo Guendouzi has admitted his surprise at the amount of first-team football he has been given at Arsenal this season.
The French midfielder arrived at the Emirates as an unknown talent from Lorient in the summer for a reported £8m fee and was expected to spend most of his time in the under-23 side.
How successful has Guendouzi been this season? Five key things to know…
- Guendouzi arrived at the Emirates from Lorient in the summer for a reported £8m fee.
- The expectation was that the Frenchman would be one for the future.
- That has not been the case, though, with Unai Emery trusting Guendouzi in 32 first-team games so far.
- The midfielder has played more minutes (1556) than any other teenager in the Premier League this season.
- Guendouzi himself has admitted his surprise at the amount of action he’s seen this season so far.
However, Guendouzi impressed with a number of mature performances in pre-season and as a result, Unai Emery has trusted the 19-year-old throughout the latest campaign.
No teenager has played more minutes in the Premier League than Guendouzi (1556) this season, something which he is pleasantly surprised by.
“Let’s be honest, apart from the players here who follow a bit of the French leagues, no-one had ever heard of me!” he told the Evening Standard.
“So it was very important for me to show what I was capable of as early as possible.
“I had a chance during the pre-season tour and I took it. I showed I could be part of this team. I still didn’t expect to play so much because I know I’m at a top club with great players.
“I’m a bit surprised that everything has been going so well. I’ve played well when I’ve featured. I think I showed that I could bring something to the team.
“I am very happy with how things have gone for me at the club so far and if I can keep playing as much in the second half of the season, it would be great.”
The France U21 international also admitted he has a huge amount of gratitude for the trust shown in him by Emery, adding: “I owe him a lot because he has trusted me from the beginning.
“He has a lot of faith in me and it is boosting my confidence. To give so much playing time to a 19-year-old at Arsenal is rare.
“I always want to repay his faith by doing well on the pitch. I have much more to learn with him. We talk a lot, he gives me a lot of advice on my positioning, playing forward.
“I can feel how much better I am now compared to the start of the season. I know all the teams we face better. I know myself better and my game is stronger.”
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Motivation key to Guendouzi impact, says Emery
With his bushy hair, robust defensive approach and composure on the ball, Guendouzi has all the attributes to become a real icon at the Emirates, with Arsenal fans already taking very well to the youngster.
And Emery believes it is his “motivation” to improve that has seen Guendouzi take up such an important role in his squad already.
“Every training, every match, he shows his ambition and motivation to be an important player,” he told reporters earlier this month.
“It is the same for all players. It is a very short career and it needs to use all the motivation for the best career, take a title and earn money for his family and future. He is showing us that.”
Arsenal host BATE in the Europa League on Thursday looking to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg.