Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi has received a call-up to the France national team for the first time.
The 20-year-old’s impressive performances to start the new season have caught the eyes of manager Didier Deschamps, who has selected Guendouzi to replace Manchester United’s Paul Pogba for France’s UEFA Euro 2020 qualifiers at home to Albania and Andorra on 7 and 10 September respectively. The world champions are currently joint top of Group H with both Turkey and Iceland, with all three nations winning three and losing one.
Deschamps’ side were soundly beaten 2-0 away to Turkey back in June as they gave a very poor performance in Istanbul. Anything less than six points from their two fixtures this month may cause concerns among supporters. However, we cannot conceive how France could drop points from either of these two fixtures against two of the easier teams in qualifying. In fact, France are the current bookmakers’ favourites to win the overall tournament next summer.
Matteo Guendouzi put in a man of the match performance in Sunday’s 2-2 draw in the North London derby which included a superb through ball for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s equaliser 20 minutes from time. The midfielder worked tirelessly covering ground, making tackles and starting attacks for us. Whether he will be given a run out during the international break remains to be seen, particularly as he was called up as a replacement.
He was one of Unai Emery’s first signings for the club when he joined from French Ligue 2 outfit Lorient last summer, in a deal believed to be worth £8 million. He made 33 Premier League appearances in his debut season, 23 of which were starts. Playing deep in central midfield, he wasn’t involved in a single league goal last season and picked up nine yellow cards.
We have been dependent on the youngster in each of our four games to start the new season as Emery has also been starting the liability that is Granit Xhaka alongside him. His call up to the World Champions’ squad for their upcoming fixtures shows just how far the youngster has come in little more than a year at the Gunners.
Lille goalkeeper Mike Maignan and Lille forward Jonathan Ikone are the only other two uncapped players in Deschamps’ squad for next week’s games.