Arsenal signed Matteo Guendouzi from French second-tier side Lorient this summer, and as common logic would suggest, it seemed unavoidable for a 19-year-old player changing surroundings, coming from Ligue 2 to a top-six Premier League team, to struggle to adapt to the change in level of football for a while.
However, it could not have turned out more different for Guendouzi, who not only seems to have blended in nicely already, but has even been awarded Arsenal’s Player of the Month award for his first competitive month with the club.
Lucas Torreira on the other hand was seen more like a marquee signing than Guendouzi could have possibly hoped to be, but the young Frenchman has completely outshone the Uruguay international so far. Industrious, bold, audacious, those words are all more than adequate to describe the impression he has given at the start of the season.
Sometimes his ideas may have seemed naive against the experience and quality teams like Manchester City and Chelsea possess in midfield, but at least he’s not afraid to look alive, ask for the ball, look ahead and try to make something happen. This is far more than can be said of his partner in that area of the pitch Granit Xhaka, who has developed an Ozil-esque tendency to disappear from games. The Swiss international would occasionally pop up with a rash tackle and a needless booking, and to be fair, an occasional quality set-piece delivery, but next to the work-rate of Guendouzi he seems completely invisible.
Many expect Torreira to replace the youngster when he eventually acquires a starting role, but in all honesty that makes little sense. Xhaka is the one currently tasked with the duties of a defensive midfielder, which is the role that suits Torreira best, and with Guendouzi playing the way he is, it would seem a folly to shift Xhaka into his spot to make way for Torreira.
Apart from the obvious reasons, it would perhaps create an unwanted picture in the minds of young players – that hard work and perseverance don’t pay off at Arsenal. That could prove disastrous in the long run.