Monday, March 20, 2023

Xhaka talks Arsenal & Switzerland – full transcript

Granit Xhaka’s Switzerland take on Portugal in their opening Group B World Cup qualifier on Tuesday evening.

Ahead of the game, the Arsenal new boy sat down with homeland publication Appenzeller Zeitung to talk about his first few months in London and a lot more…

We attempted a rough transcript with a helping hand from Google Translate. If you spot any mistakes then let us know.


Granit, how did it feel to have your first meeting with Arsene Wenger, one of the great figures of the Premier League?

I felt pure excitement! I was really very nervous. He has an incredible way, an insane charisma. You look at him and know: ‘Wow, this man has achieved and experienced so much’. The respect for him is enormous.

How is the communication? 

He’s not a coach who speaks to you every day. Wenger has spoken to me two or three times, he’s told me he’s very impressed by how I train and how I’m a disciplined character.

You’re part of a world class team in London? Did you feel nervous on your first day?

I have to admit that in the first few days there was an undeniable nervousness. You can see the players are world class just by the way they pass the ball. Ozil, Sanchez and Cazorla for example, are huge personalities.

Are you feeling confident around them?  

Even though the club has spent more money on me, there’s still a great deal I can learn from them, in every respect. Things like their work ethic and ambition are impressive.

There’s a lot of competition for places in the squad…

You can’t afford to rest on your laurels at all or you’ll instantly be on the bench. Every training session, every sprint, every exercise must be done to the best your ability.

Are you experiencing another level of football in London?

Everything happens on a higher plain than it did at Borussia Moenchengladbach or FC Basel. You become aware of the global perception of Arsenal when you’re on the tour of the USA. Everywhere we went there were huge crowds waiting, the size of the club is unmistakable.

Arsenal is luxurious… 

Arsenal prepares the players in the best way. They pay attention to every detail. Everything from flights, food and service is done to optimise recovery.

Are there things behind the scenes that have surprised you?

Every Monday we’re asked to undertake jump tests, to check the conditions of our muscles. There’s nothing you can hide. Once a week they do urine tests and your body fat percentage is tested regularly. The doctors cover all bases.

Arsenal are much more in the public eye. Their performances are watched around the globe. Are you aware more than ever at being the centre of attention?

I was pretty exposed to this at Moenchengladbach. I haven’t needed to completely change my lifestyle in London. I continue to visit the restaurants that I like. There is indeed no reason to give everything up because I’m an Arsenal player. For me, the bigger problem is all the hype. I’ve never been in the gossip pages and hope that will remain so.

The debate about you playing for Kosovo has been rekindled, you’ve had to spend time addressing it…

I’m sick of having to repeatedly justify myself. You can’t imagine who exerts pressure all on one hand. My letter on Instagram [Xhaka published a letter in Albanian] should explain why I’ve decided to play on with Switzerland. When headlines are written because of a poor translation, it’s regrettable. What more can I say?

Your profile on the pitch is rising. The national team depends on you. Do you think Arsenal will rely on you similarly?

In England they’re aware of what I brought to the table in the Bundesliga. I think the players know that. They are likely to assume that a player who arrives with a €45 million price tag has two or three qualities.

After kicking off with two games without a win there was already some nervousness about Arsenal. The margins of victory are tight if the performance isn’t right…

I knew before I arrived that the pressure at a club that challenges for the title grows quickly. The season is long, we’ll become stronger with every game.

The Swiss national team is growing stronger year on year. Are you looking to improve even more during World Cup qualification?

I hope so, of course, even if I one day I could do with a quiet moment to reflect on everything that happened in France. It was my best spell playing for the national team. I still have the potential to improve in the long-term, I’ll work hard to get rid of my weaknesses.

What role are you going to play against the European champions Portugal [in Switzerland’s first World Cup qualifier]?

In France, I really felt for the first time that my teammates trusted me to run the game.

What do you anticipate happening against the European champions?

We want to measure ourselves against the best. It’s a highlight for us and the fans who want to see and play these types of games. We’ll continue to improve and grow. We have to get better by a few percent then I think we’ll enjoy an even better qualification campaign than last time.

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Interesting to see that he’s only spoken to Wenger two or three times since he signed in June. I wonder how that lack of communication translates during games and effects tactics?

Ducks sake

What are tactics?


I think he means a long-ish chat and not your everyday interactions during training.

Mr Eko

My thoughts exactly. Is that a good thing? ?

Jim S

I took that to read, they have only talked in a one-to-one (reviewish) type of way. I’m sure AW chats with all the blokes during drills and the standard day-to-day stuff


Maybe you haven’t been part of a competitive sports team?


Boom xhaka laka

Frank Bascombe

Forward Xhaka! Forward!


Not sure what it is this guy but he’s rapidly closing the gap between himself and Mesut at the top of my favourites players list. Which is obviously what they’ll all be aiming for this season.

Third Plebeian

His passing against Watford was insane. They’re like Arteta’s long passes, except they also manage to split a defence or anticipate a run at the same time. You can see he’s getting used to his teammates. Think he’s excellent.

Holding Rob

Yeah and unlike arteta he actually play the ball forward

Sheffield Arse


Arsenal's Vardy

“They are likely to assume that a player who arrives with a €45 million price tag has two or three qualities..”
There’s a thin line between Confidence and Arrogance and this guy comes across as confident guy who knows what he is doing.
Future Captain?

Stewart Robson's therapist

I’m already picturing it. And with the 4 on his back once Per’s done with it…

Harish P

Please no. My OCD wishes it to go to another center back.


It was viera’s once. It makes sense to give him that.


4 belongs to a midfielder. 5 and 6 to centre backs.
The reasons are in the mists of time, explained in ‘Inverting the Pyramid’. It seemed to make sense when I read it


Four has always belonged to centre backs.

Then Guardiola, Vieira and Cesc changed our perceptions. It’s a traditional centre back’s number, but in my mind (largely due to Fabregas) it’s a midfielder’s.

Cape Town Gooner

Nope. Traditionally 4 is the deepest lying midfielder. An article here if you’re interested…

Cape Town Gooner

Edit: Well in England at least. Apparently it was different in other parts of the world.


I remember Brian Talbot wearing number 4 in the early 80s, and before that Peter Storey wore number 4 in the 71 cup final.


He would only want to wear 34 once Coq is gone, otherwise I think he’ll stick with 29


Yeah. Future captain if you ask me . That’s if wilshere don’t get to make it at arsenal… They both got the trait to …

Electric scant

Settle down dude. He just got here.

American Gooner

the guy was captain of the Swiss national and Gladbach by the time he was 21. He is a leader which is something Arsenal have been lacking. Ozil, Sanchez, and Cazorla are amazing players but they are not leaders who can take charge. We see by October or November when Xhaka starts picking up teammates when we aren’t playing well. It seems like most people on here didn’t watch him in Germany. He pretty much had the same partner as Cazorla in the likes of Dahoud.

Jim S

Funny thing is, this is what i have come to expect from all Arsenal players when they speak to the media. I think this is why arsene is so picky in the transfer market. Can you see Diego Costa doing an interview like this? Just read past interviews from mert, ozil, kos, cech, giroud, etc. they are constantly professional.

Stewart Robson's therapist

I don’t think Diego Costa speaks human, to be honest.


Who the fuck would care what Diego Costa has to say? Diving bitch.


Honestly, this guy sounds like a real leader and fighter. Him talking about training, justifying why he shouldn’t play for Albania in an open letter to the fans, his respect for the fans as well as the club he’s playing for all says a lot about his character. I think we’ve signed a very good player who has amazing footballing abilities as well as mental attributes and a great attitude.

We’re in for a treat with this lad! COYG!

Frank Bascombe

He’s a mensch.


What a lad. Astonishing to think of how much responsibility he carries with him and how well he carries it.
Been looking for a translation of that letter in Albanian so if anyone has a link please share it with us.


Courtesy of Google Translate: With this letter I want to tell all around the Albanian public opinion, that my next career will continue in the future for Switzerland. I also want to clarify this paper all the readers how I came to this decision. Opportunities according to the legal side: According to an official statement distributed FIFA, they told us that he played in the European Championships in 2016, no longer eligible to play for a national else. Kosovo Football Federation and FIFA do not have a clear agreement on the transfer of players from Switzerland to Kosovo. FIFA clearly… Read more »


With all the work and other club business Wenger manages he doesn’t have the same amount of time for his team compared to other managers who only work with the team and sportsrelated stuff and are not so involved in the day to day running of the club.

So it would be normal for Wenger not to man manage as much as other managers. Perhaps that is part of why he prefer to sign grounded personalities who come across as thru an thru proffessionals whom don’t need him holding their hand as much.


Has Xhaka gone ahead to disclose his fee as €45m, despite the club carrying on with the “undisclosed” tag? Isn’t that about £38m, where most have him put at 30m? I’ve always said it that when Wenger sees a special player, he usually spends money.


It’s 45m in Swiss franks – roughly £35m


“€ 45.” €=euro.


In the original interview he doesn’t name the currency. You can assume, though, that a Swiss player talking to a Swiss paper will relate to Swiss franks. But in the end it doesn’t really matter, does it?


Sky reckon it does matter. It is a huge accomplishment to spend the most. Surely we want to be #1 in the top spenders list. Forget the football…


Brilliant interview, and very decent translation, Blogs!


Props to the Hound, not me 😉

jack jack jack

I can’t rid my mind of the disturbing image of Mr Allen typing this up dressed as a dog while you pat him on the head occasionally and feed him chunks of raw meat


Already an excellent buy.

The press will of course prefer to deflect attention away from the fact City wasted/spent 47m on Stones or Chelsea bought Sideshow Bob for 34m having sold him for 50m but also bought him intially for 24m.

Or that Spuds paid a whopping 30m for a potentially erratic Sissoko considering we paid 30-5m for Granit.

Panic buy comes to mind.

Our’s we got our job done early but don’t tell it to some of our fans.;)

le gunner

My wish is that he tears united apart when we play them, Jesus i hate that club in Manchester!!!!!!

Sheffield Arse

Yeah it’s funny because in recent years I’ve kind of grown to be less bothered about them, focus img more on hating Chelsea and Sp*rs of course. Not a fan of Man City but never really hated them as such. But something must have happened recently because I really do dislike Utd again. Now, what could that be…?


Seems an excellent mind set, or at least media savvy. Query the part about having a bad game and get auto benched – ox/walcott vs campbell stands out. Hope his apparent hunger does not ebb if he sees that’s not the case. Fingers crossed he can encourage those around him.

pumbush gunner

A leader and a true professional,arsene type of player.

Prasad G

Waiting for Manure vs us.that overrated dab dancer vs this guy in the midfield!!!


What is there not to like about this guy?

Winterburn 87

He recognized world class players in our team, Ozil Cazorla n Sanchez. .wot about the rest? ?

American Gooner

maybe Kos now. the whole team isn’t “world class”. they are good not world class. just the same that all of Man U isn’t world class. Valencia, Blind, Young, and fellani are not world class.

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