Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has added to the growing speculation that Granit Xhaka could return to fitness sooner than expected.

Granit Xhaka in light training with Arsenal (Photo via Xhaka on Instagram)
Granit Xhaka in light training with Arsenal (Photo via Xhaka on Instagram)

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has been out injured since September, and the club updates consistently mark him for a return in 2022.

Yet Mikel Arteta suggested in his press conference on Thursday that Xhaka could be back before then.

“Hopefully he will be a little bit sooner than expected,” Arteta said.

“He is training and pushing himself and all the staff so hard like he always does.

“He is in a good place, he is evolving well and hopefully we can have him a little bit earlier. It is still a bit early to decide.”

When pushed on whether Xhaka could return in 2021, Arteta responded: “I hope so, yes.”

On Wednesday, we covered quotes from Xhaka himself hinting at something similar.

The 29-year-old said in quotes reported by Blick that he’s hoping to be back in the next three or four weeks. We know he’s already in light training, and has been since early November.

We’ll see how things develop. The end of the year isn’t that far away now anyway, so we won’t be missing Xhaka for long either way.

The main bonus in getting Xhaka back before the end of the year is that it would allow him to get sharp before Thomas Partey heads off to AFCON.

Granit Xhaka celebrates after he scores to make it 1-1 during the Pre Season Friendly match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture credit should read: Paul Terry / Sportimage
Granit Xhaka celebrates after he scores to make it 1-1 during a Pre Season Friendly match at the Emirates Stadium, London. Picture: Paul Terry / Sportimage

In his interviews this week, Xhaka also confirmed the length of the contract he signed over the summer.

There were rumours he’d signed a one-year extension to his existing deal, but with no official confirmation from Arsenal. Xhaka has given us the details himself, and talked about a possible future move to Borussia Monchengladbach.

“I never made the move from Borussia to Arsenal for the money,” Xhaka said on the Mit Geredet podcast. “It was a dream for me to play in England.

“I have just extended my contract, which still has two and a half years to run.

“Then I’ll be 32, and if Max Eberl (Monchengladbach’s director of sport) is ready to bring me back when I’m 32, my door will be open too.”

‘Two and a half years’ means Xhaka’s deal runs to 2024, putting him in the same category as Bukayo Saka, Nicolas Pepe, Rob Holding, and a few others.

That length should ensure Arsenal get a fair deal if anyone wants to buy Xhaka this summer. If not, he’ll probably end up seeing out his contract, given he’ll be into his thirties.

From the sounds of things, Xhaka is planning for the latter. It would certainly aid his ability to rejoin Gladbach if he’s a free agent.

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Arsenal fan since a young age, now a season ticket holder who enjoys writing, tweeting and making videos about the Gunners.