Granit Xhaka says he has enjoyed a new start at Arsenal since Mikel Arteta took over and says despite coming close to a move to Hertha Berlin in January he’s fully focused on life as a Gunner.
After his infamous falling out with the Emirates crowd at the tail-end of last year, the Swiss midfielder was stripped of the club captaincy and appeared determined to continue his career elsewhere.
Arteta very quickly persuaded him to stick out the season and the 27-year-old has been impressed with what he’s seen from the Spaniard in the months since.
In an interview with German website Sport 1, Xhaka was asked about how close he was to an exit. He said: “It’s really no longer an issue for me.
“Yes, there was contact and I had an offer, but in the end I decided to stay here in London. After three and a half years I didn’t want to cancel everything that I had built up.
“Now I’m concentrating on this with all my strength and motivation and hope that we can get back on the pitch soon.”
He added: “I think I have had a very good relationship and very good contact with all the coaches here at Arsenal.
“Everyone has their own character, their own philosophy and also their own way of doing things. With Mikel, however, I’ve had something of a new start, a reset.
“I had very good conversations with him right from the start, in which he showed me what he expected of me, how much he needed me in the team and how much he valued me as a player. It was very motivating and convincing for me.
“With Mikel you immediately notice that he has a very wide-ranging, long-standing know-how that he passes on very well to the team.
“He is absolutely professional, pays great attention to discipline, team spirit and is open and direct in communication.
“I am convinced that we’ll have a lot of fun with him.”
Xhaka was also asked about the wage cut talks held with the Arsenal hierarchy and reports in the media that Mesut Ozil was one of a couple of players who to date have turned down the request.
The Swiss was quick to point out that footballers often do a lot that goes unseen and that such actions preceded the coronavirus outbreak.
“This crisis has once again opened the eyes of many, including us players, to how quickly everything can be over and how important everyone’s health is in society,” he said.
“Many players do something to help, for example, organising fundraisers, which is very individual.
“Many also do this in the background without making it public. Therefore I do not want to rate or comment on this here, nor what is highlighted or discussed in public there again.
“By the way, it’s not new that many top players are committed to organizations and the needy. This has not only happened since this crisis.”