Granit Xhaka lays groundwork for return but adds message for booing fans

Granit Xhaka has told the press in Switzerland that he was ‘hurt’ and ‘frustrated’ by Arsenal fans when he was booed for strolling off the pitch when Arsenal urgently needed a goal but he seems ready to come back into the team.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 27: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal leaves the pitch after being substituted off during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on October 27, 2019, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 27: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal leaves the pitch after being substituted off during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Crystal Palace at Emirates Stadium on October 27, 2019, in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images)

“It was very hurtful and frustrating,” Xhaka told Swiss newspaper Blick.

“I can’t understand a reaction like that even now, especially the vehemence of it and the extreme hostility directed against me.

“When my shirt number lit up on the fourth official’s panel and our own fans broke into gleeful jubilation, that hit me very hard and really upset me,” he added.

“Insulting and swearing at your own captain will cause upset and a bad atmosphere for the team you are actually supposed to be supporting; that makes no sense to me and weakens the team’s spirit.

“I’ve been 100% behind the club and my role as a player since I came here,” he said.

“I’m proud to be playing for this big club. I’ll continue to stay positive, give my all to an even greater extent and prove that I’m an important part of this great team.

FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 19: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal applauds the fans after the UEFA Europa League group F match between Eintracht Frankfurt and Arsenal FC at on September 19, 2019 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images)
FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY – SEPTEMBER 19: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal applauds the fans after the UEFA Europa League group F match between Eintracht Frankfurt and Arsenal FC at on September 19, 2019 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. (Photo by Christian Kaspar-Bartke/Bongarts/Getty Images)

“Last week in particular was a very special, emotional experience for me but I’m doing very well again, I’ve trained well this week and am looking forward to my next assignments.

“For me, looking back it’s been very positive for a long time. After a difficult start, I played a lot and overall I’ve had a great time at Arsenal. My family and I also feel very well in the city of London. The events of the last week don’t change that at all. I’ll continue to stay positive, give my all to an even greater extent and prove that I’m an important part of this great team.”

Let’s be clear here, Granit Xhaka’s substitution was cheered because his form had been awful and he didn’t even deserve to be starting. When Unai Emery, the man who picks him, week after week despite his form – while ostracising a fan favourite for no good reason – then realised he needed to take him off, it’s not surprising that got a reaction from the fans.

Xhaka had two options when the cheers started – 1. realise they were mostly about Emery and get his ass off the pitch as quickly as possible so his team could try and win the game or 2 – Make it all about him by slow walking off the pitch, swearing back at the fans, and throwing a strop on the sidelines.

That he chose to do the latter says all we need to know about his mentality and suitability for the captaincy at a club like Arsenal.