THERE’S no denying his talent, but if he’s disruptive to the team he can leave.
That appears to be Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta’s stance on promising French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi.
The 21-year-old star, instantly recognisable for his mane of curls, was told to train alone after he was involved in a scuffle with Neal Maupay following the Gunners’ 2-1 defeat to Brighton on June 20.
And now Arteta could be about to show him the door.
The likes of Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona are believed to be interested in the France Under-21 international.
But another destination could be Atletico Madrid, with rumoured Gunners target Thomas Partey going in the other direction
His strict Spanish manager, who expects his players to behave like gentleman, hasn’t included his l’enfant terrible in the past four matchday squads.
And it’s not the first time Guendouzi has upset Arteta.
There was a previous bust-up in Dubai on the playmaker’s rap sheet that saw him dropped for a game against Newcastle.
Gunners fans will also be concerned to learn that he has previous too – falling out with previous employers FC Lorient after a dressing room bust-up.
There will be a growing concern that Guendouzi’s overly competitive nature could disrupt what should be a glittering career in north London.
A complete midfielder, at times he has shown the fight on the pitch Arsenal have needed.
Coupled with being comfortable in possession and having an eye for a pass, it wasn’t a surprise Guendouzi was nominated for the Golden Boy award in 2019.
But that fire in his belly has a habit of spiralling into an angry, uncontrollable rage.
And it reared its ugly head early on in his career at Lorient.
With his side trailing 2-0 at half-time to Valenciennes, an 18-year-old Guendouzi unleashed his frustration on his team-mates – many 10 years his senior – complaining about their lack of effort.
His manager Mickael Landreau had to step in and separate him from the pack before a brawl broke out, he was substituted and banished from the first team for three months.
Sylvain Ripoll, who handed Guendouzi his Lorient debut in 2016 and has coached him for France Under-21s, believes he needs to channel his characteristics appropriately.
“He certainly has a lively, competitive side, which does not want to sit back and suffer things,” he told local newspaper Ouest-France.
“Given that, it must be channelled, oriented towards the collective. But these are positive personality traits.”
After failing to agree on a contract extension with the French club, Guendouzi signed for Arsenal in the summer 2018 for a fee believed to be in the region of £7million.
The Premier League giants were reportedly aware of his prickly temperament, but believed with careful management that indiscipline could be curbed.
Eager to mingle with his new team-mates, within weeks of arriving in the capital he joined Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at his home for a barbecue.
Then came an infamous ‘hippy crack binge’ with Mesut Ozil, Alexandre Lacazette and Aubameyang at a wild champagne and vodka party at London nightclub Tape.
Guendouzi was seen in footage obtained by The Sun losing consciousness on a plush leather sofa, after being egged on to inhale nitrous oxide gas from a balloon.
It was an incident that left a red flag on what was a decent start to life in English football.
As has been made clear since Arteta took over the reigns from Unai Emery, he expects players to respect Arsenal’s values, fight for their team-mates, and work hard.
“I want players that respect the values that we want to implement, that are 100 per cent committed to our culture and players that are accountable every day for what we demand from them,” Arteta revealed in a press conference before the Wolves game.
“Players that are ready to help each other, fight for each other and enjoy playing together.
“If you behave like this every day, you are very, very welcome here and we want to get the best out of you and help you to enjoy your profession with us.”
It was noticeable that Guendouzi was excluded from that matchday squad, and he has been MIA since the defeat at Brighton – where he was alleged to have taunted Maupay and his team-mates about how much money they earn.
And it’s not the first time Guendouzi has had to be reprimanded for his behaviour.
At the Gunners’ Dubai winter break training camp back in February, technical director Edu had to warn the youngster of his conduct after he whipped off his top and waved it around at a promotional event.
A few days later and Guendouzi got into an altercation with a team-mate during a training session, which led to Arteta pulling the players apart.
Not only was he given a stern telling-off, he was dropped for the next league game against Newcastle.
But Guendouzi knows it’s his steely determination that drives him and has made him the player he is.
“My personality has always remained the same,” he said.
“I think that is also why today I can do everything I do at Arsenal, and why I got here.”
If Guendouzi is to succeed at Arsenal, he will have to find a way to work under the current regime.