New Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta insists Granit Xhaka has a future under him and is a big fan of the Swiss midfielder, even revealing that he wanted Manchester City to sign him.
Xhaka was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy after clashing with fans earlier this season and subsequently left out of the team by Unai Emery, though he was brought back into the fold by interim boss Freddie Ljungberg.
He has started four of the Gunners’ last five Premier League matches and, despite being linked with a January return to Germany, Arteta says he will be counting on Xhaka.
‘I told him how much I like him, what I expect from him and how important he is for the team,’ revealed Arteta ahead of facing Bournemouth on Boxing Day.
‘I am here to help him, I want him to feel that we are right behind him. Not just myself but the whole club. If we can get the fans on his side I think it will be helpful for the team, which is where it matters.’
Arteta was tasked with looking at midfield transfer targets when he first joined Man City in 2016 and Xhaka was one of the players he was interested in, with the Spaniard a long-time admirer.
‘He was one of the players on my list. This is how much I liked him,’ Arteta continued.
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‘I was happy when Arsenal signed him because I thought he was going to be a terrific player.
‘He has done some really good things and now he has got stuck in a very difficult situation that was growing and growing and growing and one day it exploded.
‘But I have been amazed by how this relationship is starting to come back a little bit and I think the fans have been very, very positive about him, and him as well.
‘Obviously it is difficult to change completely the scenario from where he was to a magnificent one. But I think we are moving in the right direction with him.’
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