Arsenal’s former head of recruitment Sven Mislintat has jumped to the defence of Matteo Guendouzi following comments made by Hertha Berlin head coach Pal Dardai.
Mislintat, who has been nicknamed Golden Eye due to his supreme talent-spotting ability, was responsible for bringing the Frenchman to north London during his time at the club.
Along with Lucas Torreira, Guendouzi made a profound impact on supporters during the early stages of his Arsenal career.
Mislintat’s ability to identify and recruit the pair of promising midfield diamonds was widely hailed within the club and beyond.
However, the influence of both players waned over time and they were subsequently sent out on loan to Atletico Madrid and Hertha Berlin for the 2020/21 campaign.
Guendouzi has started 14 Bundesliga matches this season but has recently fallen down Dardai’s pecking order, starting just one of the last five in the league.
Hertha’s head coach suggested that the 21-year-old is still in his footballing adolescence after his mistake allowed Tyler Adams to provide Nordi Mukiele with a second goal for RB Leipzig during their recent 3-0 win at the Olympiastadion, per Bild.
“It’s like puberty for him, he’s rebellious.”
“He has to learn like animals. I never give up on these duels during training. You can’t always just throw yourself out. And he’s always mad.”
Those quotes have raised questions regarding Guendouzi’s mentality, but Mislintat was eager to defend the midfielder during an in-depth interview with The Athletic.
“I disagree with Pal. If you’re not playing Matteo in midfield, it must be a very strong midfield. Matteo has the personality needed to demand every ball in tight situations and has great vision to play vertical and every other angle.
“That’s his real strength. As a teenager from Ligue 2, he played 48 games for Arsenal in his first season. I assure you, you are not able to “survive” that amount of Premier League caps playing adolescent football.”
GIVEMESPORT’s Jack Saville says…
Guendouzi, who is valued at £22.5m by Transfermarkt, has always been brave in possession and trusted himself to navigate out of tight situations.
As Mislintat says, that is one of his major strengths, but that doesn’t necessarily alleviate the concerns expressed by Dardai.
The passion Guendouzi has shown during his Arsenal career could be interpreted as hot-headedness, and he clearly still has plenty to work on from a mental perspective.
His ability to harness his devilish streak and channel it effectively is likely to determine his squad status under Mikel Arteta next season.
Perhaps Dardai’s methods will produce the desired result ahead of his anticipated return to Arsenal.