Granit Xhaka talked about the importance of Mikel Arteta in his turnaround at Arsenal, and rebuilding his relationship with the fans.
We all know the story of what happened with Granit Xhaka late last year, falling out with the Arsenal fans in the most public of manners. 10 months on, the situation is entirely different, with Xhaka a regular starter under Mikel Arteta in an improving side.
The supporters warmed to Xhaka a lot over those 10 months, despite the fact he was so close to leaving the club at one point. Today, Xhaka tells the story of one fan encounter that warmed his heart.
“What happened last November was tough,” Xhaka admitted to Swiss outlet Watson. “To the outside world I never really showed how much it hurt me, how much I had been disappointed by certain people.
“I recently got myself a cup of coffee in the city. An Arsenal supporter came up to me and congratulated me. He was deeply impressed by my comeback under the most difficult conditions. Many would have fled, not me.
“He paid me personal respect. Such encounters open my heart.”
Arteta’s key role
There’s no doubt for Xhaka that Mikel Arteta played a key role in that turnaround. Not only for the player as an individual but also for the team as a whole.
“For me, one thing is certain: I wouldn’t be in London without him,” Xhaka continued. “He was the decisive factor, with his philosophy, with his style, with his ideas. I am really grateful to him for that!
“Above all, I am crediting Mikel Arteta with [the FA Cup] victory. It gives him confidence and a certain security. We players saved a strange season with the last possible qualification for Europe.
“I don’t want to imagine how the reactions would have been if we had missed the Europa League.”
Even with the talk of new midfield signings this summer at Arsenal, it’s hard to see Xhaka dropping out of the starting lineup under Arteta. He has a key role in the team, and he’s clearly happy and playing with confidence again.