Mikel Arteta says he told the Arsenal hierarchy not to sanction the sale of Granit Xhaka and has since recruited several first team players to help persuade the Swiss to stay at the club.
The boss confirmed last night that the Switzerland international has had a change of heart and, despite his agent going public on an approach from Hertha Berlin, he would no longer be looking to move back to the Bundesliga.
Xhaka has cut an unhappy figure at the Emirates since being stripped of the captaincy in November but it appears he’s willing to stick things out a while longer after a show of faith in his quality by his new head coach.
Facing the press ahead of Monday’s FA Cup game with Leeds United, Arteta revealed: “I had a conversation with him and I wanted to understand his feelings. That’s first, and his reasoning why he was thinking it probably wasn’t the right place for him to continue his career.
“I gave him my opinion, my perspective, and I told him that I was ready to support him from the club perspective, and I wanted his team-mates to have his back to help him to change his mind. We need him.
“I believe that if we’re able to do that, the fans will respond in a positive way. I’ve seen him act every day, how he trains and how he lives his profession, as well as the quality of the player.
“I think he could be a really important player for the club. From my perspective, I don’t want him to leave. I said no to the club and I said no to him! After, in life, I cannot control what happens.”
Given how hard it is to find value in the market in January, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Arteta is so keen to keep Xhaka for the rest of the season. He knows the club, his surroundings and the league, whereas a newbie would have to get up to speed very quickly.
If there’s still interest from Germany come the end of the season then it wouldn’t be surprising if we let Xhaka go. Hopefully, by then, we’ll have sourced a replacement.