Matteo Guendouzi needs a Patrick Vieira-type figure alongside him at Arsenal, admits Lee Dixon, with the “petulance” of youth getting the Frenchman into trouble as he lacks clear leadership.
That would not have been an issue for the Gunners in years gone by, with some iconic figures having graced the club’s books during the glory days of Arsene Wenger’s tenure.
Vieira was a talismanic presence to provide inspiration from the middle of the park, with Guendouzi among those charged with the task of following in the footsteps of an illustrious countryman.
His potential is clear for all to see, but questions are being asked of his attitude on a regular basis.
Mikel Arteta has gone as far as dropping the 21-year-old from his squad, with a line crossed when grabbing Brighton striker Neal Maupay by the throat at the end of a 2-1 defeat at the Amex.
Transfer talk has now been sparked around Guendouzi, with Dixon of the opinion that the right stance is being taken with a young player in need of greater guidance.
The Gunners great told PA Sport: “I completely agree with leaving him out. It wouldn’t have happened in my day – well, it might have happened once but it wouldn’t have happened again.
“Somebody needs to have a word with him and I’m sure Arteta has done – he wouldn’t have just left him out at Southampton and not said anything.
“There will have been a conversation and then it is about the ability of that player to take that message on board and see what he does with them.
“You don’t just do what the coach says, you listen and use your football intelligence to work out the good bits, the bad bits and what will get you to the next level.
“The next level for him is not being sat at home and watching the game on TV, it is about being in the team every week.”
The legendary former Arsenal defender added on Guenzous's outburst: “It is not the first time we have seen a bit of petulance from him.
“He is a talented boy but, unfortunately for him, he has got his chance in a team that has not really got a lot of leaders on the pitch.
“If you picked Guendouzi out of the team now and stuck him next to Patrick Vieira, he would be a totally different player because he would be led around the pitch and told where to go.
“He almost needs to be coached both tactically and behavioural-wise from within the team group and I don’t know if that is going to happen.
“That is the problem he has got, he needs someone to grab hold of him and give him a little socially-distanced hug – sit down with him and talk to him, analyse his game with him.”