Emmanuel Petit thinks Granit Xhaka has three areas to work on if he’s really going to push on and become the player he can be, after the 25-year-old captained the side this weekend.

We spoke to Petit about the Swiss international currently occupying his old spot in midfield. Xhaka led the side at Old Trafford, but had a very mixed performance. That’s roughly representative of his season overall, which started poorly but has generally been much better for the last few months.

Petit explained what he thinks the former Monchengladbach man needs to work on to reach his potential.

“I think confidence is the most important thing for him,” he told Daily Cannon. “I think he must improve as well at being a boss as a holding midfielder.

“I think he should improve as a personality on the pitch, because this is something that’s missing in this team. He could be one of the leaders in this team if he keeps on going and improving.”

Unfortunately the fans haven’t always been very forgiving of Xhaka’s mistakes this season. Petit thinks this has had an impact on the midfielder and contributed to his struggles in the first half of the season.

“I can see that he has received a lot of criticism as well, since he arrived at the club,” Petit admitted. “I think he is that kind of player that needs confidence, from his teammates, from the fans, and I think it has not been the case since he arrived.

“I think now he is working very hard, he gives the best he can on the pitch every single time, the fight is coming in a good way now. It’s good for him, it’s good for next season especially.

“Next season will be the third season for him at the club. Now it’s time for the fans, for his teammates to see the real Xhaka.”

rsenal's Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka (L) vies with Atletico Madrid's Argentinian striker Angel Correa during the UEFA Europa League first leg semi-final football match between Arsenal and Atletico Madrid at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 26, 2018. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)
(Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP)

“He should be, for me, one of the leaders of the team. As a character, winning second balls on the pitch. The first thing I ask from him is winning the ball in the midfield area. He’s got a great left foot, so he can give great passes, great assists, no doubt about it.

“But the priority for me is physical impact, mental strength, and being a leader in the midfield area.”

There you have it. If Xhaka can have more of an impact on opponents physically, block out media criticism and find his voice organising teammates on the pitch, Petit thinks he can lead the team on. Let’s hope he’s right.

Emmanuel Petit is a Paddy Power ambassador. Read his columns and more over on news.paddypower.com