Matteo Guendouzi may have been banished from the Arsenal squad for disciplinary reasons but the midfielder insists he’s not a “bad boy” and that his temperament has helped not hindered him since he set out to be a footballer.
Currently on loan with Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin, the midfielder was yesterday confirmed as the captain of France’s under-21s for the upcoming group stage of the European Championships.
At Clairefontaine, they obviously believe he can be moulded into a leader, even if Hertha boss Pal Dardai amusingly claimed, “It’s like he’s in puberty sometimes, rebellious.”
Speaking to France Football as Les Espoirs’ new captain, Guendouzi was asked if he’s misunderstood.
“I’m not a bad boy, quite the contrary,” he said. “If you want to succeed, you have to have a very good character, but also this personality to always want to be the best, always to want to win, to progress. It will differentiate you.
“There are a lot of very good players. Excellent people have failed to turn pro and, for these cases, the mentality has a very large part of the responsibility. My character and my personality have allowed me to do great things. It will still help me to go to the highest level.”
Having made the step up from Lorient to Arsenal with surprising ease, Guendouzi went on to make 82 appearances in the space of two years before his infamous falling out with Brighton’s Neal Maupay. He even earned a call-up to the France national team in that period and again he says his character played a part.
“There are huge players who came to England early and didn’t make it,” he said. “Even more in a very large club. If I hadn’t had this character, I would never have played so many matches at Arsenal.”
Whether he gets the chance to play for the club again remains to be seen. When his loan move ends in the summer he’ll have one-year left on his Gunners contract. While the 21-year-old maintains his time at the Emirates isn’t over, he admits a decision will need to be made in July. Incidentally, he’ll become a dad around about the same time.
“I am focused on my season at Hertha Berlin. Then, we will make a point with my entourage and the people of the club to ask and discuss the future. I am still an Arsenal player. This summer will be a decisive deadline.
He added: “I belong to Arsenal for another year (until June 2022). I am here [at Hertha Berlin] to improve. From the moment that I am playing for Arsenal, I will give everything for this club, for the fans, for the team, for the staff. I will work hard for the shirt as I have always done.”