Unai Emery admits that Granit Xhaka may well have played his last game for Arsenal.
Stripped of the club captaincy following his public falling out with supporters, the midfielder has informed the coach that he’s not in the right mindset to make a return to the pitch.
The Switzerland international has been absent from three consecutive matchday squads and is not being considered for this afternoon’s trip to Leicester.
It’s been widely reported that the Gunners are open to letting the 27-year-old leave the club in January with Newcastle supposedly showing an interest.
Emery seems to believe his hands are tied by the situation. On the one hand he’d like to have Xhaka at his dispoal, on the other, he knows he can’t pick the player given what has happened in the last couple of weeks.
Speaking ahead of the trip to the King Power, the Spaniard said: “As a coach I have a responsibility for the team: we need a player like Granit Xhaka. But also, I don’t know if he’s going to play [for us] again.
“I don’t know because, if he is available in his mind to continue helping us and continue defending the Arsenal shirt, I think time is giving us that solution. Then, if I decide he is in the group with us, if he is ready and 100% in his mind with the decision to help us – we have a solution.”
“He said to me that he is not available yet to play; not Wednesday [the 1-1 draw at Vitória Guimarães], not tomorrow,” he said.
“After Ceballos’s injury we have one less player to use in midfield and we now don’t really have a lot of players in this position,” he said. “It’s important now to [continue] without Granit Xhaka but I don’t know; maybe he can play in the future, maybe he can’t play.”
Asked if he’d spoken the club hierarchy about selling the player soon rather than later, he confirmed that a discussion had taken place.
“Yes, I asked that question. The club knows the player’s decision at any moment, and my decision or idea about that situation and the circumstances.”
Xhaka joined Arsenal for a £35 million fee in the summer of 2016 and signed a contract extension until 2023 last year. While he won’t be short of suitors – there was talk of a big-money move to Inter Milan in the summer – you can’t help but think his market value will have taken a hit.