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"Fantastic leader" set to star at the World Cup opens up on leaving Arsenal: "It was hard"

Ryan Smart

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"Fantastic leader" set to star at the World Cup opens up on leaving Arsenal: "It was hard"

Former Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi has opened up on his Gunners exit ahead of potentially starring for France at the World Cup.

Guendouzi left the club on a permanent deal in the summer, although had not played a game for Mikel Arteta's side since June 2020.

He was loaned out to Hertha Berlin for the 2020/21 season, before moving to Marseille on a temporary arrangement for the last campaign.

Marseille then activated a clause in Guendouzi's loan contract in March to sign him permanently.

The 23-year-old arrived at Arsenal with plenty of promise, having joined from FC Lorient in 2018. Then 19, it was anticipated that Guendouzi could be a future star of the Gunners midfield.

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He was one of Unai Emery's first signings as Arsenal boss, and made 33 appearances in his first season.

But his second campaign was more challenging, and in June 2020, he was involved in a post-match altercation with Brighton's Neal Maupay, grabbing his compatriot by the neck. The Daily Mail claims he also directed numerous comments at Brighton players about wages.

Arteta then dropped him from their squad for the following game, describing his decision as 'squad management'.

After joining Marseille permanently in March, Guendouzi described moving to the club as 'his best choice in many years'.

But how does the France international reflect on his Arsenal departure now?

Guendouzi speaks out on Arsenal exit

Speaking ahead of France's first World Cup group stage game in Qatar, which sees them face Australia on Tuesday, Guendouzi looked back on the circumstances behind his exit from Arsenal.

He told GQ in France: "It was hard to leave Arsenal because I had a special connection to that club, like a lot of young French players who saw Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira and many others go through there.

"I never cheated, I always tried to give the best of myself, for the club and the fans.

"But I no longer had the game time I wanted, and when you're young, you need to play a lot of games."

Since he officially left on a permanent deal, Guendouzi has started 12 of Marseille's 16 Ligue 1 fixtures this term, and five of their six Champions League games.

His current boss, Jorge Sampaoli, called him a 'natural leader' in January - and the 23-year-old will hope to enhance his reputation on the international stage with France at the World Cup in Qatar.

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: Arsenal, Marseille, France, Football World Cup, Mikel Arteta

Ryan Smart
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