Granit Xhaka says he’s back to enjoying life at Arsenal and credits honest talks with Mikel Arteta for his turnaround in fortunes.
Jeered off the field during December’s defeat to Crystal Palace and subsequently stripped of the club captaincy, the Swiss midfielder looked certain to seal a deal with Hertha Berlin after talks in January.
On taking over as head coach, Arteta immediately worked on getting the midfielder to change his mind about leaving, initially getting him to stick around until the end of the season. A regular starter under the Spaniard, it’s now looking like he could stay even longer as the Gunners build for the future.
Speaking to Arsenal Player, he said, “I know it was not easy for me, but this is in the past and I look to the future. I have to smile a little bit because I’m very, very happy to be back and to enjoy the [thing] I love most; to play for this club, to play football. I’m very, very happy.
“I had a very, very good meeting with him [Arteta] three days after he came to the club. He told me a lot of things, I was very open with him, he was very open with me. Now we are here, I think we, both sides, are happy to bring this club where it has to be.
“It’s always good if the coach can protect you and speak openly with me and the players. In each training session, I learn a lot from him. He speaks a lot with me, how to stay, where to be. I want to give back to him in each game and each training. It’s the most important thing for me.”
On a 10-game unbeaten run in 2020, Xhaka is confident that the club are back on track after a traumatic end to the Unai Emery era.
“I think we had three or four months where it was bad for everyone,” he said. “I’ve had a feeling for a month, one and a half months, that we’re back, back in the game.
“We need some luck as well. We’ve had a lot of unlucky situations. But to have luck we have to work and we work very hard to get back to where we need to be. We have a lot of games, I’m looking forward to having a special season.”