Robert Pires says he’s not surprised that Matteo Guendouzi has made a stellar start to life at Arsenal having watched the 19-year-old come through the ranks at Lorient.
While the midfielder attracted attention from some of Europe’s biggest clubs during two seasons of first-team football in France, few in England expected the youngster to be anything more than a squad player at the Emirates following his €8 million summer move.
Contrary to expectations, Guendouzi was quick to earn the trust of Unai Emery and, following an impressive pre-season, he even started the Premier League campaign ahead of big-money acquisition Lucas Torreira in the Gunners midfield pecking order. A gobby, energetic, creative and hairy presence, he’s been difficult to ignore.
“Matteo, I know him a little bit because he used to play for Lorient in France,” Pires told the i newspaper.
“Of course, for Arsenal fans, for journalists and for some people he has been a great surprise, because nobody knew him when he signed for Arsenal. But he’s a great player, he’s very talented and he’s very confident.
“For me, no, it was not a surprise for me,” he reiterated. “I repeat, because I know him. He plays simple, he runs a lot, he’s like a warrior. I think he’s like Lucas Torreira.
“For Arsenal it’s very important to have a player like Matteo Guendouzi. He’s a good player and I think he can make a success with Arsenal. I hope so.”
So far, Guendouzi has made 20 appearances this season, second only to Torreira, who has made 21. Who’d have put money on that in the summer?
Well, probably Bobby, the wily old fox.