There was a long-running saga last summer about Jose Mourinho making Granit Xhaka one of his main targets when he took over at Roma, and many pundits were convinced that the Swiss was set for a move to Serie A, but in the end Mikel Arteta persuaded Xhaka to sign a one-year extension to his contract at the Emirates.
In an interview with ESPN, Xhaka also admitted that he was set to leave three years ago when Arteta first took over at Arsenal, and Xhaka’s relationship with the Arsenal fans was at rock bottom, but again Arteta convinced him to stay. Xhaka said about that time: “Without him [Arteta], I would not be here in this football club anymore,”
“He helped me a lot when I was completely down. He took me aside, helped me with small things, step by step, tactically, as a person, mentality, between the team and the club, tried to help me as well with the fans. He is a freak in a positive way. Tactically, he knows everything. How he prepares the team before training, before the games, is unbelievable. I had a lot of coaches, but I have to put Mikel as one of the top ones in my career.”
But then the conversation turned to the Roma saga from last summer, and Xhaka explained the situation carefully. This is how the interview continued….
Was it true?
“It was something, yes.”
Why didn’t it happen?
“Because Mikel was the guy with [technical director] Edu, they didn’t let me go because they wanted to keep me here. Of course, my first reaction was to stay at the football club, but they opened the door: ‘If something comes, I can leave.’ I have to be honest as well. I don’t want to say a name now, but the door was open for me to leave the club as well. But in the end, people decided to keep me here.”
So, now we know the truth from the horses mouth. I know that many fans on JustArsenal don’t rate Xhaka, but it is obvious that Mikel Arteta has great faith in him, and Xhaka appreciates the support from his coach.
So he signed a new contract, and what does Xhaka think about his future right now. He said: “I am very happy here,”
“My family is very happy here. I have a contract for another two years, it is true. I will be 30 in September but I don’t believe in age. You can be 18, you can be 90, you can be 35. If you have the quality, you can play. We had a lot of people who were here as well — David Luiz for example — who had an amazing career, 33, 34, 35, he is even playing now.
“That’s why age is only a number for me. As long as I am fit, as long as I can help the team, I will try to do everything. When the moment comes, I can’t do that, I am the first to say to the club: ‘I am not ready to do that.'”
So, maybe we can expect to see Xhaka in an Arsenal shirt for many more years to come….
CALLING ALL ARSENAL FANS! Anyone who would like to contribute an Article or Video opinion piece on JustArsenal, please contact us through this link…
Watch highlights from Arsenal’s open training session on our preseason tour of the USA
Please watch, enjoy, and subscribe to Just Arsenal Vids