Granit Xhaka’s future at Arsenal is uncertain, according to manager Mikel Arteta, who has yet to address the matter. In recent weeks, Xhaka, 30, has been strongly linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium. He is reportedly close to being signed by German side Bayer Leverkusen for £15 million.
But Arteta has hinted at a dramatic change of heart that might keep Granit Xhaka in north London. With Xhaka, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, and Jakub Kiwior all scoring in a convincing 5-0 win over Wolves, the north Londoners ended the season in fine fashion, as it was anticipated that this will be the Swiss midfielder’s final game in an Arsenal shirt.
Granit Xhaka was serenaded by Arsenal supporters with “we want you to stay” chants after the midfielder scored twice in what may have been his final game for the team. Prior to the home match against Wolves, Xhaka made a suggestion that he may leave the club at the end of the year.
On the morning of the game, he provided another indication by uploading a graphic that included him in each of the home jerseys he had donned while working at the Emirates Stadium. Granit Xhaka opened an easy 5-0 victory with two goals in the first fifteen minutes. A hasty finish stopped him from scoring his first-ever senior hat-trick.
With a quarter of an hour left, he was replaced by Fabio Vieira, and the supporters’ response was obvious. While Arteta would not announce the 30-year-old’s impending exit before to the game, fans already seemed to be accepting of it, with several carrying placards at the Emirates on Sunday praising him for his service. Asked about Xhaka’s exit, Arteta said in his post-match press conference:
‘Do you know that? That’s news to me.’
Granit Xhaka was replaced in the 75th minute and received a standing ovation from the home fans as he made his way to the dugout. He appeared extremely distraught as he did so. When the Arsenal players made their post-game lap of thanks, Xhaka leisurely circled the field with his family in tow, giving the impression that he was taking in the Emirates atmosphere one final time.
In a different interview with Match of the Day, Arteta was a little more forthright, referring to Xhaka in the past tense and indicating that he was willing to make some challenging decisions this summer. The Spaniard said:
“He (Granit Xhaka) did what he needed to do and he has done it the whole season. He has been magnificent for us. I had the opportunity to say thank you. He is a player who had a special story and he has been integral. It is part of my job to make the decisions that are best for the club. His story is really nice.”
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