Arsenal: Granit Xhaka An Investment, Not A Solution

March 18th 2017, West Bromwich, West Midlands, England, EPL Premier League football, West Bromwich Albion versus Arsenal FC; Granit Xhaka of Arsenal (Photo by Graham Wilson/Action Plus via Getty Images)
March 18th 2017, West Bromwich, West Midlands, England, EPL Premier League football, West Bromwich Albion versus Arsenal FC; Granit Xhaka of Arsenal (Photo by Graham Wilson/Action Plus via Getty Images) /

Granit Xhaka’s critics are getting a bit out of hand. They’ve lost the plot. Granit Xhaka was not supposed to be an immediate solution, but an investment.

Arsenal did spend a good amount of money last summer on what appeared to be three solutions. Depending on who you ask, somewhere between zero and two of those three turned out to be actual solutions.

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Granit Xhaka could be a solution, depending on what you think he is. If you think he is a defensive midfielder. He isn’t a solution. But I have gone over this line of thinking far too many times to wish to state the same thing again.

As one of the few Granit Xhaka supporters that believes that he is probably one of the greatest things to come to Arsenal, I was more than a bit incensed when some guy that used to play for Chelsea had the audacity to say that the Swiss was one of the worst signings ever.



He said that.

As in, there might not ever be a signing worse. That’s his logic.

So 10 months into the guys Premier League career, you are going to say that he is the worst signing ever? That seems like a desperate cry for attention more than it does an actual point and noticeably, it was devoid of any sort of corresponding evidence.

I’m not going to dig any more into the sources of this bizarre and, quite frankly, stupid statement. Rather, I am going to try a new line of logic in my defense of Xhaka.

It’s been widely established that what Xhaka brings to the club seems kind of stale on paper. He’s a passer with good strength and a strong shot from distance. He isn’t a good tackler, he’s slow and he has a knack for some rash challenges.

But what you have to realize is that maybe Xhaka wasn’t bought to be an immediate solution to any particular problem. In case you forgot, Arsene Wenger is adamant about not wanting a defensive midfielder. He sees them as too limited. So we shouldn’t think that Xhaka is supposed to be what Wenger doesn’t want.

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Xhaka is meant to be the backbone of the attack. The safety net behind everything. It hasn’t been perfect, but again, he is an investment, not an immediate solution. He has the makings of fitting the role perfectly and when he has been truly keyed in, even his critics have admitted that what he brings is rather useful.

Investments don’t pay off right away. Xhaka is 23 years old. He is far from a finished product. Even I will admit that he has had some rough patches this season, but to say he has been the worst of anything – even discipline – is factually incorrect and indefensible.

He is tied for the league lead in red cards, but from the way people talk, you’d think he had a handful. When it comes to yellow, he ranks in at a dastardly 99th on the list. Watch out everyone, he is so dirty that he’s barely in the top 100 for yellows. He doesn’t even have the most at Arsenal. He’s fourth (ha).

You want to talk fouls? He only averages 1.2 per game. 69th in the Premier League. Half of what the league leader averages.

This tragically skewed negative narrative about Granit Xhaka stems from misrepresentation. It stems from Arsene Wenger not marketing the midfielder properly and it stems from supporters not understanding what he is supposed to be doing.

In time, when his skill set it built around as Xabi Alonso’s is at Bayern Munich, it will be clear. And then I want to hear what this “he’s the worst signing ever” guy has to say. Because I bet it won’t be much.

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I’ll admit, just like everyone else, that Xhaka didn’t really fix anything at the club. He brought a new talent that we didn’t have and that isn’t being appreciated, but he didn’t fix anything. But investing in this lad and building around him will pay handsomely in the future.