It’s three months but it feels like a hundreds years ago.
It was June, 11th when I posted a blog bidding farewell to Granit Xhaka, a player that divided opinions since the very beginning and seemed certain to leave after five years.
Today, the same Granit Xhaka is about to pen a new 4-years deal that will see him stay until June 2025, in what has been a very unexpected turn of events.
Granit Xhaka and the Arsenal parting ways would still be the best possible outcome, especially after the player made public comments about the speculations linking him to Mourinho’s AS Roma, but I understand why Edu refused to be lowballed by the Italians, whose offer really was too low to be taken into consideration.
I understand that he would not sell a player who just made EURO 2020’s team of the tournament for 12 million pounds and why he would rather wait for better offers, the problem is that those offers were never likely to come in, regardless of Granit Xhaka’s performances with the Swiss team or any other factor: the player wanted to go and made it very clear since the very beginning that he wanted to join AS Roma specifically, leaving other potential suitors with close to no chances to sign him and the Arsenal in an extremely weak position.
To believe that there would be a race for Granit Xhaka’s signature would have been foolish, so I thought Edu would have a plan B in mind when he decided to stand his ground.
I didn’t expect it to be so bad, though.
He had several options, once he decided not to sell at a discount price and, in fairness, none of them was good: he could have left things as they were and try to sell him next summer. In the worst-case scenario, he would have got the same money offered by AS Roma this summer, or slightly less; he could have accepted that Granit Xhaka would see out his current deal and let Mikel Arteta use him as a valuable squad player or he could have worked on a short-term extension to help protecting his value on the market.
Instead, Edu gave him a raise and a long-term new deal, something that you usually do with the most important members of your squad – not someone you’re still planning to offload.
It’s hard to understand the thinking behind such a quick change of mind, because Granit Xhaka already had a foot outside of the Club six weeks ago and now he’s treated like the most important cog of Mikel Arteta’s masterplan – something is not clear there.
Edu comes under scrutiny again during his short career as Technical Director, a worrying trend that clearly overshadows some of the good deals he was part of.
The jury is out on the Brazilian and, so far, they don’t seem very happy.
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.