People often forget that Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi spent nine years in the Paris Saint-Germain academy before departing for FC Lorient and eventually North London.
In an article from The Athletic, journalist James McNicholas chronicles Guendouzi’s career and how it was former PSG manager, Unai Emery, who believed in the young Frenchman enough to give him a chance to play in the Premier League for Arsenal.
Since I’m a PSG supporter, the part of the article that obviously caught my attention was about his time at the club’s academy from 2005 to 2014.
The greater Paris region is a hotbed for young, talented footballers and PSG has been able to take advantage of their geographical location. Their 1999 academy generation included several notable names, including Dan Axel-Zagadou (Borussia Dortmund), Boubakary Soumare (Lille OSC), Stanley N’Soki (OGC Nice), and Guendouzi.
Guendouzi was able to make an impact in the youth ranks at PSG but as with so many up-and-coming players in the French capital, their eagerness for first-team football eventually leads to them leaving in search of more playing time.
Philippe Nabe, Guendouzi’s agent, also admitted that his client wasn’t quite the type of player that PSG prefers to bring through.
“He [Guendouzi] was relatively frail at the time, and PSG relies more on athletic profiles, including Soumare, who was competing with Matteo.”
Guendouzi left PSG’s academy in 2014 and joined Lorient’s in a decision that appears to have worked out. The Poissy native worked his way up through the ranks at Lorient and in 2016, he signed a professional contract with the club and played in the top division of French football for the 2016-17 season.
— FC LORIENT 🐟 (@FCLorient) September 23, 2016
Unfortunately, Lorient was relegated that season but Guendouzi stood out as one of their more promising players in only eight Ligue 1 appearances. The following season, in Ligue 2, Guendouzi made 18 appearances in the league but with his contract set to expire, the Frenchman was ready for yet another move.
In July of 2018, with Emery at the helm, Arsenal signed Guendouzi and at 19-years-old, he started for the Gunners on Matchday 1 against Manchester City.
Guendouzi is just another example of a PSG academy product moving on to a major European club and becoming a contributor. It makes you wonder if PSG’s strategy of signing superstars for obscene amounts of money is the right way to build a team. Perhaps they would be better served to use the incredible amount of talent in the city and build from the ground up.
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