Arsenal

Arsenal

Premier League • England

Arsenal told Mikel Arteta stubbornness cost Gunners ‘one of the world’s elite midfielders’

Guendouzi sale expected. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta told he's made a mistake. Here the Gunners boss is seen following the Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham

Arsenal have been teased over how they have let one of the world’s best midfielders slip from their grasp in Matteo Guendouzi as a permanent transfer nears for the 22-year-old star.

The Gunners have been, in the main, upwardly mobile under Arteta this season. He has managed to craft an excellent young side which, until recently, looked well placed to secure a top-four finish this season. Recent defeats to Crystal Palace and Brighton have, however, dampened their spirits.

But a Champions League spot is still in Arsenal’s hands with a crucial match against nearest challengers Tottenham still to come.

Should they secure a top-four finish, Arsenal will clearly become a more appealing place for potential new recruits to come play.

Indeed, strengthening their midfield and attack this summer looks a major priority of Arteta’s.

One deal they are actively pursuing, however, in Eden Hazard appears to be fading. That’s amid news a German rival now looks to be in the driving seat for the player.

However, their transfer funds will be boosted by a number of sales of players Arteta does not rate. The likes of Lucas Torreira, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Alex Runarsson and Hector Bellerin all look likely to be on their way.

But it is the departure of Guendouzi which will perhaps be the most controversial.

He was allowed to join Marseille on a season’s loan, with OM securing a bargain option to make the move permanent.

His game in Ligue 1 has gone from strength to strength. And so good has he been, that Marseille coach Jorge Sampaoli reckons Guendouzi will soon be regarded as one of the world’s best midfielders.

One of the world’s best

“He [Guendouzi] is on his way to becoming one of the best midfielders in the world,” the coach beamed.

And that brings into focus a question mark over Arteta’s stubborness once players fall foul of his strict disciplinary lines.

That was in evidence more recently when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was quickly pushed out, and ultimately sold by, Arsenal.

The relationship between Guendouzi and Arteta has been documented. During Project Restart, Guendouzi had an ugly clash with Brighton’s Neale Maupay, for which Arteta was furious.

Guendouzi will leave Arsenal this summer following successful Marseille loan

Arsenal will sell Guendouzi this summer after a successful loan at Marseille

An altercation over a mid-season trip to Dubai only worsened the situation for Guendouzi, who was promptly loaned out to Hertha Berlin.

Then, when back at Arsenal, he was allowed to move again, this time to Marseille.

Now it seems the relationship is over for good, with all parties seemingly in agreement.

Sampaoli beaming over Guendouzi

It’s not the first time Sampaoli has axed lyrical about Guendouzi either.

Speaking earlier this season, the Marseille boss raved about his abilities.

“Guendouzi’s physical condition is exceptional. He can recover very quickly, he has less risk of injury,” Sampaoli explained.

“He also managed to impose himself, which can be seen with his selection for the France team. Finally, he is the soul of the team. He hasn’t progressed thanks to me, it’s in general, he has matured.”

The Gunners could certainly have done with Guendouzi of late. Thomas Partey’s thigh injury appears to have come at the worst possible time.

His place in the team was taken by Albert Sambi Lokonga on Saturday against Brighton, but he failed to hit the same heights.