Sky Sports Germany and many other media outlets are sure: Granit Xhaka will be a Gunner next summer. I don’t know how reliable the source is but rumors are getting stronger and stronger, so perhaps there is something solid behind them. There’s no smoke without fire, they say.
Who is Granit Xhaka, by the way?
Here in Switzerland, the midfielder is a star – as much as you can actually be a star in Switzerland. Already a regular with the National team, he endured some difficult times at Borussia Mönchenglädbach after leaving FC Basel but he’s now the captain of the team and the fulcrum of their game. At only 23 years of age, that’s quite an accomplishment.
It must be said that his career has been a real rollercoaster, so far. After going through the ranks at FC Basel and taking the Swiss Super League by the storm when only 18 years old, his move to Borussia Mönchenglädbach generated a lot of expectations he clearly struggled to cope with. The Club’s record-fee commanded by the move was a heavy burden and the fans were probably expecting a different kind of midfielder, probably misled by the #10 shirt often given to him in the Swiss national team.
He really blossomed once his compatriot and manager Lucien Favre was replaced by Schubert and finally found himself alone, with a point to prove. It’s not a coincidence that his sudden renaissance saw the whole team performing much better and finally began climbing the league. Granit Xhaka needs a challenge to get going and he finally got it when Lucien Favre left.
Initially seen as a creative playmaker, Granit Xhaka has quickly turned into a deep-lying midfielder and worked hard to become one of those rare players who can win the ball back and recycle it in a very educated way. Although not particularly gifted technically, he has powerful left-foot he uses to shoot from distance and find his teammates around the pitch, switching the play very quickly.
Isn’t it a bit ironic that his two main qualities – switching the side of play and shooting from distance – are exactly the two things no-one at the Arsenal is allowed to do?
Anyway, there is more about this guy.
Very strong in the tackle – sometimes too strong, as discipline has been an issue so far – Granit Xhaka has a clear never-say-die attitude and is a fighter, one of those players fellow teammates look up at when things turn sour.
He’s not afraid of speaking up and confronting his teammates, regardless of the age and experience of those around him; born and raised as if stardom was his destiny from a young age, Granit Xhaka oozes personality and comes across like a natural leader – in spite of some controversy during his early months in Germany. In a country where young prospects patiently wait for their chance, the Swiss wonder boy twice protested publicly after being left on the bench and obviously received a lot of criticism in return – also because he complained about the quality of the team, stating that he joined Borussia to play the Champions League, not to fight against relegation.
Two brilliant PR masterpieces that almost cost him his career in the Bundesliga outfit but also two valuable experiences from which he learned a lot, as he recently explained in an interview with the major sport magazine in Switzerland.
He hasn’t really given up on opening his big mouth as he did when given the armband at Borussia: “It’s the best decision the manager could have made,” he said to the media, but at least he’s now backing his words up with some excellent displays and true leadership skills, which helped turning his Club’s season around.
Very ambitious and self-confident, Granit Xhaka looks ready to move another step forward in his career, both with the Club and his National team: made for the role of midfield general and main engine of the Swiss team at the Euros in France, he is very unlikely to be at Borussia Mönchenglädbach at the beginning of next season, since the Swiss can be snapped for a mere £ 23m (€ 30m) due to a release clause in his contract – as confirmed by the player himself to the Swiss press.
Competition is very high to sign this soon-to-be 24 years old talent, big Clubs like Bayern Munich and Manchester United are monitoring him closely and could suddenly through their hats into the ring, despite what Sky Sports Germany and the inevitable ITKs on Twitter are claiming.
There’s no doubt he would be a great addition to Arsène Wenger’s team because of his physical and mental attributes but I prefer to be cautious and see how much truth there is behind these rumors.
Thirty-something Italian, currently in Switzerland. Gooner since mid-ninties, when the Gunners defeated my hometown team, in Copenhagen. Twelve years ago I started my own blog (www.clockenditalia.com) after after some experiences with Italian websites and football magazines. Debate, don’t insult or you’re out.