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Arsenal: Xhaka reveals why ‘close’ Roma transfer fell through last summer

Granit Xhaka - Arsenal
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The Italian side pushed hard to sign Xhaka last summer but he ended up staying at Emirates.

Granit Xhaka has revealed Mike Arteta didn’t agree to his transfer to Roma last summer.

Xhaka went on to spend one of his best seasons at Arsenal after the move fell through. He established himself as a crucial player in Arteta’s squad, balancing the team’s attacking and defensive moves in midfield.

Speaking to ESPN, the 29-year-old has heaped praise on the Spanish manager for keeping him at Emirates.

“Without him [Arteta], I would not be here in this football club anymore,” Xhaka told ESPN“He helped me a lot when I was completely down.

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He took me aside, helped me with small things, step by step, tactically, as a person, mentality, between the team and the club, tried to help me as well with the fans.

“He is a freak in a positive way. Tactically, he knows everything. How he prepares the team before training, before the games, is unbelievable. I had a lot of coaches, but I have to put Mikel as one of the top ones in my career.”

Asked about Roma‘s interest last summer, Xhaka responded: “It was something, yes. Very close. It didn’t happen because Mikel was the guy with Edu, they didn’t let me go because they wanted to keep me here. Of course, my first reaction was to stay at the football club, but they opened the door: ‘If something comes, I can leave.’

“I have to be honest as well. I don’t want to say a name now, but the door was open for me to leave the club as well. But in the end, people decided to keep me here.”

Arsenal will continue their pre-season campaign with a friendly match against Orlando City on Thursday.