With Arsenal failing to take games by the scruff of the neck this season, and allowing themselves to tamely drop away from the title chase against Leicester, there has been much discussion about the fact that Arsenal have been lacking an inspirational leader on the pitch to goad the players into action when their heads are dropping.
Now that Granit Xhaka’s arrival at the Emirates has been confirmed,could this be exactly the type of player we need to fill that gap? As he is very well known and admired for his exploits with Borussia Dortmund, Standard Sport spoke to Sven Goldmann of Der Taggesspiegel to give us all a much better idea of his personality and attitude, and it makes very interesting reading. Here is what he said:
What sort of player is Granit Xhaka?
He’s a typical leader in central midfield, very dynamic and powerful. He’s also a very physical presence. A good guy!
Would he be a good fit for Arsenal?
I think so, he’s perhaps most comparable with a young Kevin-Prince Boateng, the way he played at Portsmouth. He might not be that fast out of the blocks but he’s so physical and powerful. He still has the technique and footballing skills to back that up though. In short he’s a complete player.
The way Gladbach played last year was very similar to how Arsenal play. Their former manager Lucien Favre is a close friend to Arsene Wenger. They like the same kind of football so I think he could fit nicely.
On that basis it sounds like Arsenal fans can look forward to him adapting to the Premier League quite quickly then?
He wasn’t that quick in adapting to the German league though. Of course the quality difference between Switzerland and the Bundesliga is quite significant.
The Bundesliga is much faster, much more physical. He needed half a year, he was quite quick with his mouth in the first month in Germany but it took a while for his feet to follow.
After that he managed to play at a very high level consistently. He’s very self-aware, always looking for ways to improve himself.
He was made captain of Gladbach at just 22 years of age last September. How did that come about?
That was after the change of coach in September [when Favre resigned to be replaced by Andre Schubert]. The previous captain, defender Martin Stranzl, was often injured and Xhaka was the logical alternative.
He was the boss on the pitch, always. Even though he’s very young.
Arsenal are often criticised for lacking leadership, can Xhaka be the midfield general they need?
Absolutely, he’s a born leader. He’s very young but he’s played with the Swiss team at the World Cup and has plenty of experience.
He’s taken on a lot of pressure, in public he always talks to the press and if you ask him a question he’ll give you a proper answer.
Xhaka’s a leader on the pitch and a leader off the pitch.
Is he worth the £33.5million Arsenal have offered?
A good question, ask me again in a year. Those are the prices in modern football nowadays. To get a player like Xhaka, one of the big leaders in the Bundesliga, out of his contract, it probably is worth it.
It is often said that Arsene Wenger doesn’t like strong personality’s in the dressing room, and Arsenal fans have grown used to their captains not even being on the pitch, never mind about inspiring them to victory. Could this all change with the arrival of Xhaka?