It’s common for Arsenal players to be misquoted while away on international duty, but it’s also become a very easy line for clubs to use when they don’t like what they hear. Granit Xhaka saying he is ready for the ‘next step’ could be interpreted either way. Is that ‘next step’ with the gunners or a desire to move elsewhere?
The fact his comments (however meant) have caused debate, highlights how decent his recent form has been. For the majority of his 3 years at the Emirates most Gooners wouldn’t lose any sleep about hearing the midfielder hint about leaving, with the Swiss often being an easy scapegoat. Which is exactly why we can’t complain if he is flirting with other clubs.
Fans can’t have it both ways.
We can’t demand loyalty when it suits us but wash our hands of an individual we deem not talented. Sanchez got booed on his return to North London for leaving, yet some criticise Ozil for doing the opposite. How many want Carl Jenkinson off the wage bill? How many care that he loves the badge?
A squad who are very active on social media (a few admit to watching AFTV) they can grasp the public opinions of their own form. Xhaka will be aware that he has been disrespected in the past. While he gets paid enough to take it on the chin, it gives him no reason to show loyalty if he finds a move he feels will better him. This is a man who stopped his car to sign autographs and take pictures, only to be sworn at with his wife sat next to him.
He was also a constant in the team when Arsene Wenger was being hounded out, “disrespect” the Frenchman claimed, “I will never forget”.
In other words, and I blame YouTube for this, certain members of our fanbase have embarrassed a club who had a reputation for doing the right thing. Based on the short term, some are now happy if Granit extended his deal but when Ozil did that, it quickly became a case of, ‘what have you done for me lately’. If we lose a few matches, does Xhaka go back to being undervalued?
While I think any switch could only be a sideways one, I do think he’s one of those players that coaches and teammates appreciate more than spectators. He dictates our play, often building from the back. Statistics show he gives the ball away a lot but is he not the man brave enough who tried the Hollywood pass? So, if your unhappy with his recent comments and you demand respect from a man who was happy to extend his deal last summer, be honest and say ‘have you done the same to him?’.
Clubs spit out players who want to stay as much as players who turn their back on clubs. You can’t have it both ways..