Granit Xhaka has confirmed he almost left Arsenal to join Hertha BSC in January 2020, before Mikel Arteta’s conversation changed things.
Back when Mikel Arteta first joined Arsenal, he immediately had an issue to address involving Granit Xhaka. The player looked likely to leave at the time, after a fiery confrontation with supporters and subsequent absence from the team.
Yet the new head coach changed Xhaka’s mind to the extent that he’s still here and playing in 2021. The player himself admits he was indeed close to joining Hertha BSC before Arteta stepped in.
“Hertha made contact, I discussed it with Arsenal and there were only a few details to complete for me to make that move,” Xhaka said. “However, then Mikel arrived and we spoke. He wanted to hear my side of the story.
“I have to say it was the first time I had met him; I had no prior knowledge of him as a man or a coach. But we had a really great one-to-one chat – very open, very positive, very long.
“He looked deep into me, into my thinking, and he persuaded me that we should go on together, stick with each other on this Arsenal project. I am happy that I made the decision.”
Xhaka is already up to 25 appearances for the season, even with his red-card suspension in December. Since his return, Arsenal have only lost two games in 10, one to an own goal and the other with just nine men on the pitch.
The 28-year-old is forming a great partnership with summer-signing Thomas Partey, making it difficult to leave out either of them. It’s a good thing Arteta convinced the Swiss international to stay.