Mikel Arteta says Granit Xhaka is enjoying his football at Arsenal after working hard to win back the trust of fans with his performances on the pitch.
The Swiss international looked destined to leave the club when the transfer window opened in January. Stripped of the captaincy following an on-pitch strop during December’s game with Crystal Palace he was happy to be courted by Hertha Berlin with whom he agreed personal terms.
Against the odds, Mikel Arteta intervened to persuade the midfielder to stick out the season and since then the player has gone from strength to strength. While the 27-year-old still has his flaws, his work ethic served him well when times got tough.
Asked about Xhaka’s decent form and the journey he’s been on this year, Arteta said: “You probably know better than me what happened and how much it affected both sides when that issue occurred.
“When I arrived, I had a really high opinion of him, I knew him really well, I tried to convince him that he could have a place here, that he could enjoy his career, that his family could be happy here.
“He’s a player that when he commits he gives 100 per cent. He worked really hard, he won everybody’s trust again. He’s starting to enjoy it, you could see that and normally when you have those two aspects together that’s when players perform at the highest level.
He added: “I think for a football player when you feel the fans supporting you, you feel the love, the support, it’s an immense amount of drive and energy that produces.
“To be fair, since I joined I saw that [love] towards Granit. The atmosphere was completely different. They were clapping him, supporting him and they were good. Hopefully, he can enjoy that when supporters are back in the stadium.”