Former Arsenal forward Jeremie Aliadiere has said he told Matteo Guendouzi to join the club because he knew it “would definitely be the right place for him.”
Aliadiere, who made 10 league appearances during the 2003-04 “Invincibles” campaign, was teammates with Guendouzi at Lorient two years ago and helped convince his compatriot to move to the Emirates this summer.
“I knew when I first saw him that he had something special and that a lot of clubs would be after him,” Aliadiere said. “I said to him that for his development Arsenal would definitely be the right place for him. You can go to big clubs and never get a chance but Arsenal always give you a chance to their young players. I thought it’d be good for him.”
Guendouzi, 19, has been one of Arsenal’s standout performers after coach Unai Emery surprisingly threw him straight into the starting lineup in all four Premier League games to start the season.
Fans named him the club’s player of the month for August after he impressed with his composure on the ball as a holding midfielder, and he has kept fellow newcomer Lucas Torreira on the bench so far.
Even Aliadiere said he did not expect the teenager to play such a big part so soon.
“To be honest yes, I have been surprised. When I saw him joining the club I didn’t expect him to start straight away, I thought it would take him a bit of time to adapt but he’s such a confident lad,” Aliaidiere said. “When I was playing with him at Lorient you could see that, on top of having the talent, he’s just so confident in himself.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, what career you’ve had, he’s happy to be whatever and friends with everybody. He’s just a nice and happy guy to be around. I’m not surprised he’s getting on with everyone in the dressing room.”
Aliadiere was part of the Arsenal legends team who played a charity match against Real Madrid on Saturday, along with former teammates such as Jens Lehmann and Robert Pires.
Goalkeeper David Seaman also weighed in on one of Arsenal’s newcomers after the game, telling Bernd Leno to stay patient.
Leno was brought in from Bayer Leverkusen this summer has had a to settle for a backup role to Petr Cech, who has kept hold of the No. 1 spot in goal despite struggling at times to cope with Emery’s style of playing out from the back.
Cech’s spot in the team has been increasingly questioned as Leno is more used to Emery’s style of play, but Seaman said the Germany international has to earn the right to play.
“Just because he cost a lot of money does not mean he goes straight into the team. He has to be patient. Petr Cech has done nothing wrong in goal,” Seaman said. “OK, so he is adjusting to playing with the ball from the box. But he has been able to contribute to the team and has done nothing to cause him to be left out.”