Granit Xhaka signing provides steel in Arsenal’s midfield
Arsenal have confirmed the signing of Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka for a fee in the region of £30m. The 23-year-old was much-sought-after by the Gunners in their bid to bolster their midfield as experienced players Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta departed at the end of the season.
Arsene Wenger has made an early foray into transfer market after buying just one player, Petr Cech, in the entire summer last year, which suggests that the 66-year-old may be feeling the pressure to deliver success in the next campaign.The Gunners extended their Premier League title drought to 12 seasons as they finished behind champions Leicester City by 10 points.
Arsenal are at odds of 6/1 in football betting at the time of writing to end their strife in the 2016/17 campaign and secure the top-flight crown to ease the growing strain on the Frenchman. Wenger has already made strides to help his team to get on their path to glory by securing the signing of Xhaka. The Swiss international has been a force in the middle of the park for the Bundesliga outfit in his four seasons with the club.
Xhaka began life at Monchengladbach as an attacking midfield player when he joined the team from Basel in 2012, but dropped back into deep-lying role during his first year at Borussia-Park. The 23-year-old is combative in his role and enjoys the physical side of the game as his disciplinary record over the last three seasons especially suggests.
Xhaka has collected six red cards in all competitions, highlighting his ambition to win the ball in the middle of the park, although he will need to manage his aggression in the Premier League. However, the move for Xhaka is an acknowledgement from Wenger that his side have to become more ruthless in the midfield.
Once upon a time Arsenal collected an abundance of red cards due to the physical play of Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Petit. Since the departure of Vieira, Wenger has struggled to plug the gap as Gilberto Silva, Mathieu Flamini and Francis Coquelin have all failed to impose themselves on their opponents.
The signing of Xhaka provides a huge boost to the Gunners, and even though he has the ability to play a crucial role in his new side’s possession game, his main value to the team will be to allow Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere further freedom in the final third.
Xhaka’s leadership will also be an important asset for Arsenal as he has captained Monchengladbach for the past season. One of the criticisms aimed at the Gunners over recent years has been their lack of drive on the pitch, which the signing of Xhaka should abate as he settles to life at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal supporters will watch with interest Switzerland’s progress at Euro 2016, with a large portion of the nation’s hopes resting on the talented midfielder.
His performances in France will go a long way in telling whether he will be able to live up to expectations and his ability to handle the pressure of a Premier League title race.