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Matteo Guendouzi says gaining more playing time was behind his loan move

Matteo Guendouzi joined Hertha Berlin on loan having not played for Arsenal since June.
(Image credit: Mike Hewitt/NMC Pool)

Matteo Guendouzi insists his Arsenal career is not over.

The 21-year-old left the Emirates Stadium on transfer deadline day, joining Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin on a season-long loan deal.

Having initially impressed at Arsenal following his move from Lorient in 2018, the France Under-21 international had not featured for the Gunners this season.

He has not kicked a ball for Mikel Arteta’s side since a post-match clash with Brighton striker Neal Maupay after Arsenal had lost to the Seagulls on June 20.

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Arteta later questioned Guendouzi’s commitment to the cause and the player would depart for Germany in the final hours of the market.

But, speaking after captaining France’s Under-21s to a 5-0 win over Liechtenstein on Thursday night, Guendouzi said his time at Arsenal is not at an end.

“It is not that, I just really needed to play this year, a new challenge,” he told reporters.

“That was the most important thing for me. I am still young, I am only 21, so playing time was the top priority for me.

“So Hertha Berlin, I know that I will be able to express myself in a magnificent league.

“They are a very good club with big ambitions. So, I have left to go on loan there for a year, so I will give everything I can for this club.

“I needed playing time, I need to play, I needed to enjoy myself on the pitch and that is what I am going to do this year.”

Arsenal technical director Edu revealed earlier in the week that Guendouzi – as well as Lucas Torreira who would join Atletico Madrid on a similar loan agreement – had both asked to leave over the summer.

“The market situation was really strange,” he told arsenal.com.

“It was difficult to manage well because nobody was 100 per cent comfortable to do the deals. Even loan players or to swap players was even more difficult. I think we did it quite well.

“If you see Lucas Torreira, if you see Matteo I think for them it was really really important to move, play more games, be more comfortable and happier because both came to me and Mikel to talk about the possibility to go to have more games and play more minutes.”

Another player who looks set to depart on loan is defender William Saliba.

The 19-year-old saw a deadline-day loan move to former club Saint-Etienne fall through but the PA news agency understands Arsenal are actively seeking a loan move to a Sky Bet Championship club.

Saliba joined Arsenal from Saint-Etienne last summer for a reported £27million – but the agreement also meant he would remain with the French side for the 2019-20 campaign.

A number of injury problems, coupled with the cancellation of the Ligue 1 season following the coronavirus outbreak, meant Saliba’s final year with the club did not go as planned as he made just 17 appearances.

With Arteta keen for Saliba to get game-time and a “year of transition”, a loan to the Championship – with a domestic transfer window open until October 16 – is a growing possibility.

It is understood Arsenal will take care over the choice of destination, highlighting style of play, location and potential manager he would be working under as key factors – with Norwich, Brentford and Watford reportedly among potential suitors.