• News

Granit Xhaka admits the only reason he never left Arsenal

Granit Xhaka - Arsenal
Getty Images

The Switzerland international decided to leave in 2019 after jeers from the club’s own fans.

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is the reason Granit Xhaka remains at the club to this day.

In a match against Crystal Palace in October 2019,  fans jeered at Xhaka as the midfielder was substituted. He  reacted by gesticulating at the crowd, exchanging words, taking off his shirt, and then heading straight down the tunnel.

This incident caused then-Gunners boss Unai Emery to strip Xhaka of the captaincy and left the Swiss on the brink of an exit…until Arteta persuaded him to stay during a meeting.

“He [Arteta] is the reason why I’m still at this football club,” Xhaka told BBC Sport.

“All of the club knows why I am still here because three years ago I was gone. My suitcases were packed and finished, but I had a meeting with Mikel when he came. He wanted to hear my opinion about what had happened and I explained to him.

“I remember it exactly. I told him, ‘It has nothing to do with you’, because I didn’t know him and I never played with him. Obviously I knew his name, but not the person, and I said, ‘I’m gone, I can’t wear the shirt anymore’.

“He said, ‘Give me a chance for six months and if you are still not happy after six months, I’m the guy who will help you, not to run away, but you can leave’.

“I didn’t speak with family, with nobody, and normally I don’t do that. But I said, ‘OK Mikel, I will stay for you’, and I’m still here.”

True to his word, Xhaka stayed and remains a key member of Arteta’s midfield almost three years later. He also started in the 2-0 opening day win over, ironically, Crystal Palace last week.

The 29-year-old joined Arsenal in the summer of 2016 from German club Borussia Monchengladbach.