Unai Emery has already spoken very highly of transfer target Matteo Guendouzi, amid talk of Aston Villa wanting to sign the Frenchman before the end of the January transfer window. The pair, who worked together at Arsenal between 2018 and 2019, have been heavily linked with a reunion this month.
The latest sees Marseille closing the door to a move unless a “very big offer” is submitted, with West Ham United also monitoring the situation, emerging late for a potential hijack of the transfer. The Villans have already been in contact with the player’s representatives, it is now just a matter of bidding enough.
As Emery is very fond of Guendouzi and Villa have the financial resources to complete a deal, Marseille reportedly accept that a “last-minute approach cannot be ruled out”. However, as has been the way with much of the Lions’ transfer business this January, they will not make any rash decisions.
The new man in the Villa Park dugout has been a big fan of Guendouzi for years, and he remains so. His resounding past comments can bring a lot of optimism, too, especially as the player has developed since. Speaking to Arsenal Player in September 2019, Emery said: “Matteo is a very good example for how we can develop our young players.
“He started, at the beginning, with some doubts about his adaptation after he came from Lorient in the second division in France. He was very young. But his ambition and his wish to adapt very quickly, as well as his quality, were very good for us. He started playing and training with us and his progress after and development during the season was amazing.”
Guendouzi, despite having a tricky end to his time at Arsenal, remains a top player. Becoming a key man for Marseille since departing the Emirates Stadium, first on loan before he sealed a permanent move last summer, Guendouzi has made 81 appearances. In that period he has scored nine goals and assisted a further 18.
Although unwilling to publicly state his intentions for reuniting with Guendouzi, Emery did recently name-drop him at a press conference. “At the moment the club is hoping to add some more players in the squad,” Emery told Birmingham Live. “At the beginning, we were speaking about the possibility of some players leaving, like Cameron Archer.
“Now, if we can do it then we can add some players, but not specifically speaking about one name like Matteo [Gueundouzi]. The possibility is to improve and have better balance in the squad with different profiles and trying to improve every time the players in the team,” Emery said.
Experienced in three of Europe’s top five leagues and having featured in the Champions League for Marseille, Guendouzi is no doubt a player capable of starting for Villa. He is also match-fit and raring to go immediately as he has played 100% of the minutes available to him in Ligue 1 this season.
His arrival would offer depth at the centre of the park, adding competition to an already talented midfield consisting of the likes of Douglas Luiz and Boubacar Kamara. Interestingly, the latter played and forged a partnership with Guendouzi at Marseille. Perhaps Kamara can be of some use as Villa push for a late deal.