Arsenal: ‘Two-faced’ Mikel Arteta right to upset Granit Xhaka

Arsenal, Granit Xhaka (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
Arsenal, Granit Xhaka (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images) /

Granit Xhaka wants a move to Hertha Berlin and is upset at Mikel Arteta for stating that he will be a key player but can leave in the summer. The Arsenal head coach, however, is justified in his stance.

Granit Xhaka wants to leave Arsenal. The midfielder has seen his relationship with the team and supporters deteriorate to the point of return. He was widely abused and criticised in the latter stages of last season, before he then started this year in limbo with the uncertainty regarding the captaincy and his disastrous performances on the pitch.

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It all came to a head against Crystal Palace. Xhaka was the official captain by this point, but his displays had only worsened. Conceding silly fouls, missing simple passes, committing easy turnovers, the Swiss international was the worst regular player in the team. And the supporters wanted to let him know about it.

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After seeing his number thrust into the air by the fourth official, Xhaka turned to the sideline and slowly started to trudge off the pitch. The fans booed. Loudly. He then told the entire Emirates to ‘f*ck off’, and so the boos echoed around the stanchions all the more. Xhaka cupped his ear, raised his hands in a goading fashion, and chucked his shirt on the floor as he stormed down the tunnel. This was the beginning of the end.

In fact, even with a new manager at the helm and the great healer of time having done its work, Xhaka’s relationship with the supporters is still shaky, to say the least. And Xhaka himself has now taken the stance that it is irreparable. After his first performance under Mikel Arteta, which was his best individual showing of the season, Xhaka’s agent confirmed that he would like to leave north London having agreed on a deal to return to Germany with Hertha Berlin.

Arteta had previously said that Xhaka would be a crucial player in his team and that he wanted to establish the midfield of the Swiss’ talents. But this time, when Xhaka came to him explaining his intention to leave, Arteta said that he could at the end of the season. This apparent juxtaposition of opinion angered Xhaka, who described Arteta as ‘two-faced’.

Arteta, however, is very much justified to hold these views. He can believe that Xhaka is crucial to his plans and also cede that he can leave should he want to. They are not mutually exclusive opinions. And Arteta never quite specified for how long Xhaka would be the cornerstone piece of his central midfield.

Reports also stated that Arteta views a deep-lying central midfielder as one of the key needs of the team. This would likely see Xhaka dropped from the starting XI. Maybe, then, Arteta felt that Xhaka is crucial this season, in which options are limited and external solutions will be difficult to find, but is not as important beyond the summer transfer window.

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Xhaka might feel aggrieved to be both valued and allowed to leave, but actually, Arteta is quite justified in his stance. He is, after all, the head coach. And for Xhaka, it might be best to put an end to his misery.