In recent years, Arsenal have been criticised for letting some talented youngsters go.
The real Serge Gnabry story has been written numerous times; those that ignore what actually happened do so because the truth does not suit their agenda.
Likewise the criticism of the club for releasing Donyell Malen, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Ismaël Bennacer has always baffled me.
Malen at youth level was a long way behind the likes of Stephy Mavididi, Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson and had the likes of Xavier Ameachi and Bukayo Saka coming up behind him.
He decided to return to his native Holland where he has performed well. However there is a huge gulf between the Eredivisie and the Premier League.
I am sure had Nelson or Nketiah gone to Holland at the same time, they would have similar numbers – maybe even more.
Until he shows that he can put up similar performances in England or Germany, I do not think he should be put down as “one that got away”.
Likewise, those that write that “The Jeff” should ever have been sold probably do so because they were one of the ones that hyped him up as the next big thing following one Emirates Cup pass.
He was so sought after when leaving us that he joined Angers.
Lyon then spent €25 million on him, he played 15 league games and they loaned him to Nice.
Within the terms of the loan deal, Nice had an option to sign him for €25 million. But after making just 13 league appearances last season they decided to not trigger the deal.
Reine-Adelaide is now 23. Put him up against Emile Smith Rowe (3 years younger) and tell me who the better player is. It is the Englishman.
I doubt there will be too many of Europe’s top clubs looking to sign Jeff this summer.
Finally Ismaël Bennacer sums up the “hindsight football expert” that social media seems to have been created.
I was in Sheffield that fateful night when we lost 3-0 to Wednesday in the League Cup. It was Bennacer’s debut and he was less than impressive – as was much of the team.
When Bennacer joined Italian club Empoli, it was done with barely any fanfare. No one was saying it was a mistake. That we should not have sold him.
He was just another youngster who had failed to make the grade and was let go.
After 2 good seasons, AC Milan came in for him.
It was at this point there was a bit of noise from some that we “should not have let him go”. Where were these people when we sold him? They probably had not even heard for him.
Youngsters need game time to improve and progress.
We have seen that with Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka – meanwhile Nketiah and Nelson have stagnated due to lack of game time.
The thing is Arsenal are not a charity. We are not a feeder club. We can not give game time to every young player in academy. We can not develop every single one.
Most players in top sides academies will leave to find first team football elsewhere.
Some will sink and end up working on a building site, telling stories about how they were once at Arsenal or Chelsea; others will find their place in the lower leagues. Whilst the odd few will work hard and rise back to the top.
Nothing that Malen, Reine-Adelaide or Bennacer have done has proved Arsenal wrong in thinking they would not be good enough for us. None are playing at a higher level than Arsenal.
And this brings me on to Guendouzi.
Matteo could be the one who, alongside Gnabry, a genuine case could be made that he ended up playing at another level than Arsenal.
But like Gnabry, his time at the club will be re-written by many.
At 19, Guendouzi looked the find of a generation.
Tall, strong, confident. He was an Arsenal captain in waiting.
And then the cracks began to appear. The issues. The arguments. The petulance.
Now 22, it seems his behaviour is not improving with age.
His social media posts over the last few days (many deleted) highlight just why Mikel Arteta had enough of his attitude.
Will it finally click at Marseille? Will he go on to put in a stellar season or two which will get him that move to Bayern Munich, Manchester City or Real Madrid?
His future is in his own hands. It always has been.
For now, I will not lose any sleep in us selling Guendouzi. Arteta can not be a babysitter to a 22-year-old man.
Let him be another clubs problem. Another managers pet product. But history has a tendency of repeating itself.
If Guendouzi grows up, he could be a great. If he doesn’t, he will go the way of many before him and just be a footnote in history.
Very well written. 👍
Excellent piece. It’s a shame so many use this story to suit their own agenda of Arteta apparently ‘ruining another young player’.
I genuinely think if Guendouzi is ever to become great it will be more likely because of the way Arsenal have dealt with him (i.e. in not putting up with his petulance) than it will be in spite of it. I also think if we let his behaviour slide because of his potential, it would have done a lot of damage to both him and the club.
I sadly read the passage line by line, when it came to Matteo.
Sure, club and coaches knows what the best is.
However, the negative attitude, it always mentions again and again as if it is everything. We should not forget, he always plays for the badge with full determination. He left his pair of lung in the field, he vents our (supporters’) frustation when the referee, opposition players bullying us. He defends the badge with his heart while several others (the-so-called senior players) are hiding.
I am not on side with his antiques when grabbing the neck and codescending other athlete’s salary. It is wrong. Yet what happen before? A bully to our goalkeeper. Who stands for it? No one.
His antics in the pre-season? It is out-the-field problem. Why cant the management and more senior figure controls it? Has anyone ever heard his ‘indisciplinary’ regarding to his diet, night-life, tactics, team-work, selfish play?
In my defense to Matteo, yes, he has issue; yet it is other than the kicking-the-ball thing. Neither how to play with canon badge on his chest. Nowadays, when athlete’s salary has inflated so highly, the one who plays with all the heart and honestly representing fans emotion in the field has become a rare breed.
I feel sad of losing him. And OM fans are lucky for having him.
Hats off 👍
It’s amazing yet baffling to see how the Guendouzi story has turned sour. This guy was quite a signing if I recall.