Granit Xhaka reveals 'one person' at Arsenal that wanted him to stay

Granit Xhaka reveals the ‘one person’ at Arsenal that wanted him to stay when he looked set to leave in 2019 after he was stripped of the captaincy for telling booing fans to ‘f**k off’

  • Granit Xhaka was close to departing Arsenal being booed by fans back in 2019 
  • Xhaka transformed his standing at Arsenal and left as a Gunners cult hero 
  • Mikel Arteta booked again, other bosses getting yellows. If you are going to eradicate these ills, KEEP DOING IT, REFS! Listen to It’s All Kicking Off 

Arsenal cult hero Granit Xhaka has revealed that after his infamous on-pitch spat with fans, there was just one person left at the club that wanted him to stay, with a move away seemingly all-but agreed. 

Xhaka’s time at Arsenal was nothing short of dramatic, with the Switzerland international leaving the club after seven years last summer after scoring twice on the final day of the season. 

It was the perfect goodbye for a player that had been on such a dramatic journey in north London, having previously been the unofficial Persona Non Grata at the Emirates before moving to Bayer Leverkusen. 

Back in 2019, amid a poor run of form for a then Unai Emery Arsenal side, Xhaka was booed by fans as he was substituted, which clearly triggered the player, who cupped his hand to his ear and seemed to mouth an expletive-ridden rant at the stands.

The captain left the field by ripping off his shirt, with his future at the club seemingly going with it, but despite a move to Hertha Berlin having been agreed, he has revealed that one person in particular convinced him to stay at Arsenal. 

Granit Xhaka has admitted that only one person from behind the scenes at Arsenal wanted him to stay 

Xhaka signed off in style after a turbulent seven years at the Emirates with a brace on the final day of last season

An October 2019 clash with Crystal Palace saw him booed off the pitch with the player mouthing ‘F*** off!’ to fans on his way out – but the Swiss star later became a fan favourite

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Xhaka had previously claimed that current boss Mikel Arteta was the only reason he remained at Arsenal, where he would go on to win back the love and support of the club’s fans before departing for high-flying Bayer Leverkusen at the end of 2022-23.

Now, in an interview with The Athletic, he has admitted that he was shown ‘little respect’ by the Gunners, with only Arteta keen to keep hold of the player.  

‘The club showed me little respect even though I was the captain,’ he said. ‘It was clear they wanted to get rid of me as quickly as possible, apart from one person: Mikel Arteta.

‘Mikel told me he wanted me to stay. But I wasn’t sure.

‘I could not imagine myself playing for Arsenal again. I said to him, “I just want to be somewhere where the fans don’t boo me”. But he was so convincing.

‘For the first time in my life, I took a decision without talking to my family first. I got up and said, “OK, I’ll stay”. We embraced and, from that day on, I returned to training and it was like nothing ever happened.’

Xhaka’s final season saw him score nine times and pick up seven assists in all competitions, one of his most fruitful campaigns at the club. 

His game was markedly improved after being shifted into a mezzala role in midfield that brought out the best of his attacking and creative talents that were at times wasted at the base of a midfield pairing.  

A 27-year-old Xhaka cups his ears to taunt Arsenal fans as his substitution is greeted by boos

The clash with Palace saw his stock at the club plummet dramatically after ripping off his shirt

Xhaka departed the club as a cult hero after re-winning the favour of the Gunners supporters

Xhaka has started every single game of Bayer Leverkusen’s Bundesliga campaign this season


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‘Mikel picked me up and brought me back to playing at a level I always knew I could play at,’ he added of Arteta’s influence.

‘Four years later, it ended with me almost scoring a hat-trick [against Wolves in his last appearance] and Arsenal fans screaming that they wanted me to stay. It was a goosebumps moment.’

Xhaka is now plying his trade in the Bundesliga with surprise leaders Bayer Leverkusen, led by former Spain, Liverpool and Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso. 

This term he has contributed one assist in all competitions, starting every single game of the club’s Bundesliga campaign that sees them four clear of Bayern Munich at the top of the table. 

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