Granit Xhaka, a midfielder for Arsenal, is a controversial figure even among his own fans, let alone neutrals. However, it’s clear that his manager and a Gunners legend stand behind him.
Granit Xhaka’s famous, foul-mouthed rant at the Arsenal fans on the field in 2019 almost cost him his job with the Gunners, but what has happened since has been nothing short of amazing.
The 29-year-old has said that he had his bags packed and was ready to leave North London for a move to Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. Xhaka’s mind was no longer at Arsenal, but manager Mikel Arteta was able to change that.
Even after three years, Xhaka still makes the occasional terrible mistake, but he has grown up and is now one of the first names on the Arsenal team sheet. A few years ago, when he got angry at his own fans, it didn’t end his career, but it did get him kicked out as club captain.
So, it’s even more impressive that Arteta recently gave Xhaka and Gabriel Jesus, who joined the team in the summer, leadership roles. Everyone can see that the midfielder is a leader. Even though Martin Odegaard is now Arsenal’s official captain, Xhaka is still one of the loudest voices in the locker room, as the recent Amazon docuseries “All or Nothing” showed.
In the program, there are many examples of Xhaka being a force for good in the locker room. Emile Smith Rowe, a young player for Arsenal, did something that stood out.
Last season, cameras caught Xhaka, who is known for being shy and quiet, taking the time to praise the work of a teammate before a big North London derby at home against Spurs.
“You’re the man of tomorrow. “You’re the future,” says Xhaka to the English player. “I knew right away that you were the future here. Imagine if you were Arsenal’s number 10 and would become captain one day. Wow!”
At times, it seemed like the only people who liked Xhaka’s skills were his teammates at Arsenal. However, Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira, who used to play for the Gunners, has also said nice things about him.
When asked which current players remind him of himself, the Frenchman said, “Xhaka at Arsenal. I think he is a team player, I think he is someone you may not notice or talk about a lot, but he is working really hard for the team.”
After the Swiss international’s meltdown in 2019, Vieira came to his defense, saying, “I know how good he is, and he’ll get through this tough time because he’s a strong man. He is a good player, and he will prove it.”
Surprisingly, Xhaka is one of the most underrated players on the Arsenal team. In fact, the way he has started this season is probably a big reason why the club didn’t want to spend £25 million on Youri Tielemans.