Once upon a time, Granit Xhaka was Arsenal captain until he threw a massive strop, told the fans to f**k off, and we all thought his time was up at the club, but he has done what few others would have managed in this situation and turned it all around.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 23: Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal in conversation at full-time during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Everton FC at Emirates Stadium on February 23, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 23: Mikel Arteta, Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi of Arsenal celebrate during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Everton FC at Emirates Stadium on February 23, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

One of the most telling things about Granit Xhaka and this current Arsenal squad is how badly he was missed after he was injured against City, ruling him out of the Brighton game.

Another is how much better Arsenal looked having him back in the side against Southampton.

That is, of course, not a massive endorsement, but it does speak to his importance in the squad at present – and why so many managers see him as captain material.

So far in his career, the 27-year-old has captained Basel, Borussia Monchengladbach, Arsenal and the Swiss national team – every team he has played for. Let’s not also forget that his mum used to trust him with the house keys when he was a kid.

Arsenal's Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka receives medical treatment before leaving the pitch injured during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on June 17, 2020. - The Premier League makes its eagerly anticipated return today after 100 days in lockdown but behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by Dave Thompson / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /  (Photo by DAVE THOMPSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Arsenal’s Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka receives medical treatment before leaving the pitch injured during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on June 17, 2020. –  (Photo by Dave Thompson / POOL / AFP)

Even though he is no longer Arsenal captain, it seems unlikely he will leave as expected. Especially not when Mikel Arteta is singing his praises as a ‘natural leader’.

“Yeah, he’s a natural leader,” said Mikel Arteta ahead of Arsenal’s FA Cup game on Sunday against Sheffield United.

“He’s someone who is always 1,000 per cent committed, not just for himself but to help all his teammates all the time. I’m happy that you can hear him more now! [shouting on the pitch without crowd noise].

“Hopefully I have 24 captains who are willing to take leadership wherever they like,” replied Arteta.

“There is not only one way to be a captain, you can be a captain in many different ways. Be yourself, express yourself, play with the passion and set an example to your teammates. That is, for me, a leader.”

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Writer. Feminist. Dreamer. Gooner. Owner of DailyCannon.com, writing about Arsenal since 2008. Sometimes found in the Guardian, Vice.com & elsewhere talking queer issues, politics & football. If in doubt, assume sarcasm.