Arsenal manager Unai Emery has been delighted with Matteo Guendouzi’s rapid progress this season, but the club’s coaches have repeatedly told him he was one major weakness he needs to eradicate from his game.
The teenager was the least heralded of the club’s five summer signings, arriving for just £7million as a virtual unknown from Ligue 2 side Lorient.
Guendouzi impressed during the pre-season tour of the Far East and quickly established himself as key member of Emery’s midfield engine room, playing with a maturity way beyond his years.
Despite a series of impressive performances, the Evening Standard reports that Emery’s assistants have regularly reminded him he needs to improve his defensive work and track the runs from opposition midfielders.
Emery, meanwhile, knew he had a serious talent on his hands and, just as importantly, one with the right attitude and temperament when Guendouzi turned down the opportunity to represent his country in the summer in a bid to speed up his adaptation process under Arsenal’s new manager.
‘The first impression from him is very good,’ Emery said ahead of Saturday’s trip to Huddersfield.
‘We saw this from the first weeks of pre-season when he arrived here and started training.
‘For example, his very big decision to decide not to play with the national team in the summer because he wanted to stay and work with us to show his capacity in pre-season. He earned the possibility to take minutes in the first XI.
‘His adaptation was very quick. Now his progress is very good. He is very young. We played with Lucas Torreira and Guendouzi as midfielders at Manchester City. He is a very young player, his present is very good but his ambition is to grow a lot with us and become an important Premier League player.
‘He needs to work every day with ambition, as he is doing now. Every training, every match, he shows his ambition and motivation to be an important player. It is the same for all players.
‘It is a very short career and it need 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.’