Matteo Guendouzi touched down in Marseille yesterday to put the finishing touches on a move to the Stade Velodrome. Initially, the 22-year-old will sign a year-long loan deal but the French club will have an obligation to buy the midfielder for £10 million next summer.
Once upon a time, Arsenal might have hoped for far more than that but after falling out of favour due to disciplinary reasons and having failed to set the world alight during a season in the Bundesliga, we’ll just have to settle for recouping our initial outlay (and most of the money spent on his wages).
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It remains to be seen whether Guendouzi fulfills his potential but ahead of his return to France, he insists that he’s as ambitious as ever.
“My dream has always been to develop myself at the highest level and to win the maximum number of titles,” he said.
“I am a competitor and greedy for titles. I want to meet the greatest champions as teammates and opponents, live my dreams, work hard to meet my expectations. I’m under contract with Arsenal and we have mutual obligations. There is interest from clubs from different leagues. Right now I’m one hundred percent focused on my recovery. In due time, I will decide with my advisors and my father which direction we are headed. ”
He added: “At the end of my career I want to have a résumé full of titles and trophies. That’s why I play football so I can experience these unique moments like winning the Champions League or the World Cup.”
Despite being part of a team that struggled for form and survived relegation in his absence – he was sidelined by a metatarsal injury during the run-in and required surgery – Guendouzi rejects suggestions that his year in Germany was a mistake.
“No, absolutely not, it was a carefully considered decision,” he said. “I gave everything for the club and the most important thing is that Hertha stayed in the Bundesliga. I used all my strength and abilities for the club and its project.
“And I would like to thank everyone in charge, supervisors, team-mates and fans of Hertha for their support in the fight to stay up. I am happy to have met all of these people and I feel great gratitude towards them.
“My foot injury is a stroke of fate. And a tough test, especially because I haven’t had an injury before that would require an operation. The worst part was that I couldn’t help my team in the league’s final sprint. But you have to put it into perspective during a pandemic.”
As for the injury, which isn’t expected to cause any undue problems when he undertakes his Marseille medical, he said: “I feel alive and well. The operation went well and successfully.
“I am well looked after by professionals who work with the doctors and physiotherapists of the French association.
“I’m doing very well on my rehab schedule and the medics are very satisfied. This injury made me mentally stronger.”
We expect to have more on Guendouzi’s Marseille move in the coming hours and days.