Granit Xhaka fires parting shot at 'disrespectful' Arsenal and claims 'it was clear they wanted to get rid of me' | The Sun

Granit Xhaka fires parting shot at 'disrespectful' Arsenal and claims 'it was clear they wanted to get rid of me' | The Sun

December 19, 2023

GRANIT XHAKA has claimed Arsenal showed him "little respect" and "wanted to get rid" of him back in 2019.

The Swiss midfielder, 31, departed the Emirates for Bayer Leverkusen in a £21.5million deal in the summer after a seven-year spell in North London.

In 297 games for Arsenal, he scored 23 goals and provided 29 assists, winning two FA Cups.

He also wore the captain's armband for a short period in 2019.

But he was close to leaving four years earlier, before Arteta inspired him to perform a U-turn.

The Arsenal fans turned on the midfielder during a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in 2019 as they booed their skipper.



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But with Xhaka on the verge of moving, Arteta convinced him to stay.

Speaking to The Athletic, he said: "Arsenal showed me little respect even though I was the captain.

"It was clear they wanted to get rid of me — apart from one person: Arteta.

"When I met him for the first time, my bags were already packed and I was about to hop on a plane.

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"With my heart and soul, I had already left the club.

"I said to him, ‘The solution is for me to go’. Mikel told me he wanted me to stay. But I wasn’t sure. I remember speaking to my dad at the time.

"He told me, ‘Let’s go’. For the first time ever, he told me to run away. He said there was no future for me at Arsenal.

"I could not imagine myself playing for Arsenal again. I said to him (Arteta), ‘I just want to be somewhere where the fans don’t boo me’.

"But he was so convincing. For the first time in my life, I took a decision without talking to my family first. I got up and said, ‘OK, I’ll stay’.

"We embraced and, from that day on, I returned to training and it was like nothing ever happened."

Xhaka joined German side Leverkusen in the summer as he linked up with manager Xabi Alonso.

And they are flying high at the top of the Bundesliga table, four points clear of champions Bayern Munich.

Xhaka has started all 15 of their league matches so far this season, playing all but 22 minutes.

He is the best-performing midfielder in Europe's top seven leagues when it comes to passes into the final third – registering 164.

That is nine more than the next best, with the rest of the top five consisting of Girona's Aleix Garcia, Manchester City's Rodri, Real Madrid's Toni Kroos, and Girona's in Daley Blind.

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