Matteo Guendouzi did not expect to be on Arsenal’s books at 19 years of age, but admits that iconic figures such as Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira made him dream of one day representing the club.
Having grown up on the outskirts of Paris, the highly-rated midfielder hoped to one day find himself turning out in the French capital.
He was part of Paris Saint-Germain’s academy system for several years after seeing his potential noted early on, but moved on to Lorient in order to make a senior breakthrough.
A rapid rise to prominence has now taken him to England, with Arsenal having moved to secure his services in a £7 million ($9m) deal over the summer.
With the Gunners having boasted strong French ties down the years, with Arsene Wenger bringing several countrymen on board during his time in north London, Guendouzi is delighted to have fulfilled another childhood ambition by making his way to Emirates Stadium.
“Growing up, I watched other teams and I fell in love with Arsenal.
“I wasn't really interested in posters but I saw many, many videos.
“Players like Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira made me love the club and I dreamt of going there.
“When I see the Emirates and the statue of Henry, I think back to those videos.
“From the moment Arsenal made an approach, everything was clear for me.
“I'm not going to lie, I thought it would happen later in my career. But joining such a club at 19, any player would like that.”
Guendouzi has made a positive impression at Arsenal, with Unai Emery have placed considerable faith in a player who arrived in England with limited top-flight experience to his name.
Just eight Ligue 1 appearances had been taken in with Lorient before their relegation in 2016-17, but the youngster has settled quickly into Premier League life – starting all five of the Gunners’ league outings to date.