Matteo Guendouzi sheds light on Mikel Arteta tensions

Former Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi insists the spat with Neal Maupay wasn’t the reason for his departure from the club.

Only a few players have divided the Arsenal fanbase recently, like Matteo Guendouzi. The Frenchman, signed as an unknown 19-year-old from Lorient, soon won hearts with his passionate displays and burst of energy on the pitch.

While he was a regular under Unai Emery, Guendouzi fell out of favour under Mikel Arteta. As per media reports, his antics at the end of the game against Brighton caused a stir with the manager.

Guendouzi got involved in a tussle with compatriot and then Brighton striker Neal Maupay after full-time. Many accused the striker of causing injury to Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno. The incident infuriated the midfielder, who had a foul-mouthed exchange of words with the forward.

Many in the media suggested the incident left Arteta unimpressed. Guendouzi never played for Arsenal again and moved out on loan to Hertha Berlin. He signed with Marseille on another loan last season and has since signed permanently.

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Fans have come to criticise Arteta for banishing the former Arsenal midfielder. Those criticisms have stopped in the current scenario as the fans focus on the team’s on-field performances. The Gunners are leading the Premier League table despite only managing a draw against Southampton on Sunday.

Guendouzi has now clarified the reasons for his departure. His comments via Goal France (h/t Sportwitness) indicate the spat with Maupay was not the reason for a fallout with Arteta. He did confirm problems with the Arsenal boss and explained the real reason for leaving the club.

Guendouzi said, “Journalists used this excuse to say that we had a bad relationship, and that’s why I stopped playing and left Arsenal. Not at all. It’s a gesture like many on the pitch. There’s a lot of tension sometimes, a lot of problems on the pitch. In any case, it has nothing to do with all that.”

On his relationship with Arteta, he continued, “It’s true that I didn’t have the best relationship with him. Beyond that, I always tried to work and gave the maximum of myself in training and matches. I still played a few matches with him; I still did great performances.

“He preferred other players, and I respect that decision. That’s why, afterward, I also decided to leave because I was still young; I needed playing time to continue to progress. The most important when you’re young is to play.”

Since leaving Arsenal, Guendouzi has become an integral part of Marseille. He helped the club finish runners-up last season and made the grade to become a regular feature in the France national squad. While some Arsenal fans miss his presence, the midfielder has done pretty well in Ligue 1.

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