Mikel Arteta thinks Granit Xhaka was able to turn his Arsenal career around through hard work and enjoying his football again.
Granit Xhaka looked likely to leave Arsenal in the January transfer window when Mikel Arteta first joined the club. However, the head coach quickly turned things around through conversations with the player.
Speaking to the media this week, Arteta explained how he did it, but he gave all the praise for Xhaka’s resurgence to the player’s own hard work.
“I tried to convince him he could have a place here where he could enjoy his career,” Arteta said. “That his family could be happy here. He’s a player that when he commits he goes 100%.
“He worked really hard, he won everybody’s trust and started to enjoy it. You could see that. When you have those two aspects together that’s when normally players perform at the highest level.”
At this point, Xhaka is fairly popular with fans again. I was surprised to find so many telling me they’ll get Xhaka’s name on their new shirt next season. Arteta thinks that had already started before lockdown, but he should get even more support afterwards.
“To be fair since I joined I saw that towards Granit, the atmosphere was completely different and they were clapping him, they supported him,” Arteta continued. “Hopefully, he can enjoy that when the fans are back at our stadium.”
Much of that is due to how much better Arsenal perform when Xhaka starts. Right now, Arsenal don’t have a midfield pairing that works better than one with him in it. It’s hard for a fanbase to stay mad at a player who objectively improves their team.