“F**k Off“, this is what an agitated Granit Xhaka told the Arsenal fans present at the Emirates in a fixture between Arsenal and Crystal Palace. Back then, it was November and the man-in-charge of the club was Unai Emery. Though the time has changed now, it’s been a change of two months and one manager.
Since Mikel Arteta took the helm of Arsenal there’s no player who has improved as much as Granit Xhaka. The Swiss international has not only improved his performance on the field but has also miraculously gained acceptance amongst the Arsenal fanbase.
In the recently held poll for the Player of the Month by Arsenal, Granit Xhaka was voted by 31% of the Arsenal fanbase. With Brazilian sensation Gabriel Martinelli winning the poll with 49% votes.
In December, Granit Xhaka was heavily linked with a move back to Bundesliga. The talks went even as far as the former Borussia Mönchengladbach skipper agreeing personal terms with the Bundesliga outfit, Hertha Berlin. It looked like a point of no return for Arsenal and Xhaka, only for it to actually turn out as the returning point.
When Mikel Arteta was quizzed about how he managed to keep the 27-year-old, “I wanted him to hear from me my opinion on him, and that I was ready to support him and that I was ready to push the club to be supportive of him too because I thought he could be a really, really good player for us and he could enjoy playing under me in this football club.
“I tried to convince him that way. He thought about it, he had a very positive response afterwards, and I think he changed his mind.”
Granit Xhaka has always been a quality player, though he has his faults like any other player. What Arteta has done is simple, he has allowed Xhaka to get into a role which would exploit his passing ability while also allowing him to sit deep so that his lack of pace isn’t exposed.
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