Granit Xhaka set for Arsenal reprieve after Roma transfer breaks down


Switzerland international captain Granit Xhaka will be offered a new contract by Arsenal to continue a rollercoaster summer when it had appeared he would join Roma

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After a summer in which it appeared inevitable that Granit Xhaka would join Roma, it now appears that the midfielder is set to stay at Arsenal after all.

Reports had suggested that the Serie A club were closing in on a deal at the behest of their new boss Jose Mourinho, who admired him throughout his stint in the Premier League.

The truth behind that rumour remains unclear but the likelihood of such a transfer taking place now appears remote and the Gunners are set to offer the midfielder a new contract.

The 28-year-old has just two years remaining on his deal at the Emirates – meaning that his future at the club is now entering a pivotal phase.








Granit Xhaka is set to be offered a new contract by Arsenal after links to Roma this summer
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Image:

Arsenal FC via Getty Images)



Two years is normally the point in which the balance of power in a player’s future swings from the club towards the individual – with there being an awareness that his market value is now decreasing as the clock ticks towards a potential contract expiry.

In little over a year’s time, Xhaka will celebrate his 30 th birthday and that is another tipping point of market value reduction.

This summer’s perfect storm of the player’s sell-on value peaking was added to but Xhaka’s sterling role for his country in Euro 2020 – putting in a series of star performances.





The deep-lying midfielder helped his side emerge through the group stages before putting in a virtuoso performance in the Round of 16 victory over France, where he was simply magnificent.

Xhaka caught the eye in the ‘quarterback role’ at the base of his side’s midfield, not only breaking up opposition attacks but spreading the play with pinpoint long balls to set up counter-attacks and expose the France defence.

The match was not only one of the games of the tournament but one of the greatest international matches of recent times; the Swiss spurning a penalty to double their lead before coming from 3-1 down in the closing stages to salvage extra-time and then dramatically winning on penalties – as Kylian Mbappe was thwarted in the decisive spot kick.

Should Arsenal sell or keep Granit Xhaka? Comment below








Granit Xhaka starred as Switzerland defeated France at Euro 2020
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POOL/AFP via Getty Images)



Xhaka divides opinion but won universal acclaim for his showing – this is a player who is loved and appreciated by each of the three managers he has played under at Arsenal, alongside the admiration from Mourinho, and particularly by Arsene Wenger – who sanctioned his £35million signing from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016.

Wenger told beIN Sports after Xhaka’s performance against Les Bleus: “He was exceptional, all his choices were good.

“He was the one who rallied the troops.”

Xhaka produced a true captain’s performance, although an accumulation of yellow cards meant that he missed out on the quarter final against Spain – when the Swiss were eased out on penalties.








Arsene Wenger thought highly of Granit Xhaka
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During the team talks in extra time and ahead of the shootout against Spain, Xhaka was right in the middle of the player’s huddle and barking instructions with encouragement to his teammates.

There is little doubt that Xhaka is hugely respected among his managers and his peers, combining this leadership and authority with genuine quality – even if it is slightly below that of top tier players.

Yet among fans, Xhaka has often provoked controversy – with his ups and downs at the Gunners exemplified with him losing the club captaincy months after the appointment of Unai Emery.

When he was substituted off in a home match against Crystal Palace two years ago, he was jeered off with loud boos from his own fans – to which he responded by swearing and storming off down the tunnel at the Emirates.








The low point of Xhaka’s time at Arsenal – being booed as he was subbed off against Crystal Palace
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“Everyone knows what happened with me and the fans. It was not a nice time,” Xhaka recalled on BT Sport back in August.

“Sometimes this happens in life, maybe sometimes you need this to be back in reality and say ‘listen, I have to work more’.

“I was very, very close to leaving the club. Until this time, I had very great moments with the football club but after that, I was of course a bit down.

“But then Mikel came, I had a very good meeting with him. It was never in my mind to leave the club. Of course, you think about it but Mikel was the guy, he turned it around and gave me a second chance.”





However, Xhaka has clocked up 220 appearances for the Gunners and has never dipped below 40 appearances in any one season – highlighting his consistency and the value of maintaining fitness.

He is clearly a valuable asset at the club and despite the lows often infuriating fans – his value to the team is clear.

The signing of Albert Sambi Lokonga from Anderlecht and the links to other central midfielders – including Ruben Neves of Wolves, rumours which have since subsided – had suggested the club were prepared to cash-in on Xhaka this window.

He told reporters during the Euros when asked whether he knew his future amid the links to Italy: “Not yet… it is always interesting to learn a new language.

“Let’s see, everyone knows what Roma represent.

“Now I am an Arsenal player, I will speak after the tournament.”

Yet he has still not yet spoken and a report in The Athletic now claims Arsenal are preparing to offer him a contract renewal.




The Swiss midfielder has returned to the club’s Colney base in London following his prolonged break after the conclusion of the Euros and as things stand, he is fully focused on the start of the new campaign.

With the uncertainty over the future of multiple Gunners midfielders – notably Joe Willock, Mohamed Elneny and Lucas Torreira – it is little surprise that there is a lack of clarity over Xhaka’s future role.

If his five years in North London to date are anything to go by – as highlighted once more this summer – it will be neither quite nor uneventful.

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