Xhaka blown away by £159k-a-week Arsenal man, says he’s the only reason he stayed at club

There’s no doubt about who Arsenal‘s most improved player is this season.

The Gunners are riding high at the top of the Premier League standings after winning six of their first seven games in this competition thus far.

For a team that missed out on Champions League football last season by a point, despite having no European football as a distraction all year, this Arsenal side has clearly gotten a lot better.

Granit Xhaka is an embodiment of the North Londoners’ improvement this time around, with the Switzerland international operating in a slightly more advanced midfield role and one that allows him to flourish.

It’s early days, but Xhaka seems to be playing with a lot more responsibility and maturity and he has credited Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta with transforming his game, having confided in the Spaniard upon his appointment in 2019 that he was ready to leave the Emirates Stadium.

He told The Player’s Tribune: “When Mikel was appointed, I told him that I wanted to leave. He understood completely. We had a second chat a few days later & when I went in, I had talked it through with my wife. Our suitcases were placed by the door. It is very difficult to change my mind.

“Then Mikel began to talk about how I was a big part of his plans. I liked his warmth. He was honest, straight. Clear plans. I felt I could trust him. He told me to give him six months to prove me wrong & then if I still wanted to leave, no problem.”

“Normally I spend a lot of time making these decisions. I talk to everyone around me, but that day I broke my own rules. I told Mikel, ‘Ok’. I called my wife & parents, ‘We’re staying. Unpack the bags, this is a new challenge. Either you are with me or I’ll go it alone’.”

Eyebrows were raised when Arsenal handed Arteta a new £159,000-a-week contract before last season finished, before the Gunners had completed their objective of a top-four finish.

However, clearly the former Manchester City assistant is extremely well thought of within the club’s hierarchy and, as Xhaka testifies, the squad too.




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