Granit Xhaka’s proposed exit from Arsenal this summer won’t just leave a hole in the middle of the park, but his leadership will be sorely missed too.
The Swiss international is one of the senior figures inside the Gunners dressing room and Mikel Arteta has relied on his experience on the field, as well as helping the young core make a smooth transition into the first team.
The latest reports claim Xhaka will be leaving the club in the upcoming transfer window, however, as Arsenal look to use the cash from his sale to facilitate a rebuild as the Premier League side are set for wholesale personnel changes this summer.
It’s claimed that Roma are interested in making a move for the midfielder under new boss Jose Mourinho with negotiations beginning around the £20million mark.
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Mourinho publicly praised Xhaka ‘s leadership skills two years ago and it seems he would love to have a player like the 28-year-old at his disposal.
He said: “Xhaka is the main man in the entire Arsenal midfield, you can’t see it unless I lend you one of my eyes,” he said a couple of years ago. “Without him, Arsenal is lost.
“He is a leader. Remember, mistakes are made by humans.”
From an Arsenal perspective, how will they fill the void left by Xhaka who has been an experienced figure at the club for the past five years?
It’s unlikely they will sign a like-for-like replacement but instead, they are hoping a current player in the squad will step into that role.
And Arsenal’s technical director Edu has already hinted that person could be Thomas Partey, who now has a season in the Premier League under his belt, as he hailed his leadership qualities on and off the pitch after he made the £45m switch from Atletico Madrid last summer.
He said: “Thomas has all the right attributes to be a top player for Arsenal. He is a leader on and off the pitch and he is exactly the kind of player and person we want at the club.
“We already feel like we know Thomas very well based on the work we have done analysing his performances closely in recent times.
“With his all-round game and positive aggressive style, he will be a brilliant addition to our squad.
“We’ve made a strong start to the season and we want to continue to build on this with Thomas now part of our club.”