Friday, June 21, 2024

Xhaka: I want to be closer with the fans

Granit Xhaka accepts his relationship with Arsenal’s supporters changed the day he was booed off the pitch in 2019 but feels he made the right decision to stick things out at the club.

Within weeks of his public spat with the crowd at Emirates Stadium, the Switzerland international had agreed terms with German side Hertha Berlin but reneged on the deal at the last moment following a heart-to-heart with new manager Mikel Arteta.

While the midfielder lost the club captaincy amidst the furore, he insists he still acts like he has the armband, not just giving his all on the pitch but continuing to be a leader in the dressing room.

Speaking to The Players’ Tribune, Xhaka reflected: “My bags were packed. The passports were out. I was done with Arsenal. Finished.

“There was a contract on the table from another club, and all I had to do was sign. I had talked with my wife, Leonita, and we had decided to leave.

“I was just going to say goodbye to Mikel, and then we would board the plane.”

His change of heart was quick and decisive.

“My head had left Arsenal, but my heart had not. My heart was telling me, ‘You can’t leave this football club like this’.

“Mikel and I didn’t speak about my future again, because after six months I was happy. Today I know I made the right decision, absolutely, because I’m still here. But I can’t pretend that my relationship with the fans will ever be the same, because that moment will always be in my heart.

“It’s like broken glass, you know? You can piece it together, but the cracks will always be there.

“I would like us to have a better relationship. I would like us to understand each other better. That is exactly why I’m telling you all this.”

Last summer, Xhaka penned a new deal at Arsenal that commits him to the club until the summer of 2024. Despite flirting with a move to AS Roma last summer, the 29-year-old doesn’t sound like someone who is going to be pushing for a move when the current campaign ends.

“Obviously, I am not captain of Arsenal any longer,” he said. “But I can promise you that I will still act like a captain, even without the armband. That is possible. I get a lot of respect from my teammates and our staff, and I am so thankful for that. I will always help the young guys and take responsibility for our performances.

“Arsenal is still in my heart, 100%. My challenge was never to change people’s opinions about me, but to help the team. And then after that, if someone did change their mind because of that, then great.

“I understand that we will never be best friends, but I hope we can treat each other with honesty and respect. I want you to know that whatever I do on the pitch, it comes from the right place.”


If you don’t have time to watch the full video, below, it’s well worth reading the rest of his piece in The Players’ Tribune.

He talks in-depth about the abuse he receives on social media, why he reacted the way he did and how he’s working to turn things around.

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Fair play to him I guess.
With his new position and stalwart performances I can’t help but think he’s been done wrong by managers playing him out of position and not learning from THEIR mistake.

Like playing Messi as a CDM and losing your shit everytime he lost out on a physical dual.

Laca New Signing

You can say the same about Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey and PE Aubameyang


Well, as olive branches go – that’s not a bad effort. I don’t want to tempt fate, but – dare I say it – he seems to have turned a corner, both in his performances and, it would appear, his attitude. To be fair to him, he hasn’t complained about where the manager wants him to play – and, in spite of the fact I would rather have had a bag of cement at left back rather than Tavares, it’s patently clear to all that in the absence of Partey, Xhaka’s influence on the midfield is all the more vital.… Read more »

Brady’s bunch

It’s a couple of years too late though.

Alan Sunderland

Couple of years too late for what? He was getting abused constantly and gave some back. Just read the comments on here after any game, the same numpties blaming him for every goal/mistake/defeat. Read the comments blaming him before any match, or any article that doesn’t mention him. The only thing I can think of why they do it is to prove how big of fans they are. Should never wear the shirt again, disrespected the fans blah blah blah. Turns out none of them have ever set foot in England never mind the stadium. Started following arsenal when we… Read more »


What has never setting foot in England have to do with anything? I’d rather someone who doesn’t like xhaka because of his mistakes than someone who’s a thinly veiled xenophobe

This Must Be The Place

If you read the whole sentence and those which, it is part of a point criticising more casual fans who have not seen his performances in person and seem to uncritically take other peoples opinions on as their own.

Nacho de Montreal is tasty

How do people know England was shit in Worĺd Cup quaterfinals, did they all travel around the world to watch?


So, in summary, what you’re saying is that he was getting abused constantly and gave some back but the abusers have never set foot in England never mind the stadium. So where exactly were the fans that caused him to lob the armband on the floor? I really don’t get why it’s impossible to produce a balanced assessment. Xhaka has made some appalling errors in an Arsenal shirt and reached a point long ago where him being liability was becoming almost predictable, particularly when things are going badly for us on the bitch. However, he’s also consistently been an integral… Read more »


It’s never too late to try and make amends, my friend.

Life really is too short.


I do not think this is the ideal time (recent results) to give such an interview but that said, I have never understood the reason why some people feel they have the right to insult players of a club they support. Xhaka had never and will never be a Gilberto or Viera but he has never been a Song or Denilson type. I was surprised when his link with Roma was applauded by many in our fan base during the summer. I believe this squad needs Xhaka for another season or two. We need an upgrade on Xhaka but still… Read more »


You have it the other way around – it was he who insulted the fans. I believe the exact words were “Fuck off”. He did that and has NOT apologized. For me, as a fan, that’s non-negotiable. I don’t care if he’s Messi (he’s not), he shouldn’t be allowed to play for this club anymore. There can be no forgiveness without contrition, and he has never shown any for his actions that day. Oh, and on the topic of him still acting like a captain – he has never acted like a captain. He’s the opposite of a leader, he’s… Read more »

Man Manny

This is three years on. Let it go, man. An unforgiving heart rots the bones.
Bitterness is like taking in poison and expecting someone else to die.

Alan Sunderland

Is there a mirror in your house?


Yes Xhaka, completely unprovoked and with no prior history of recieving endless hate and death threats against his children, told the fans to “fuck off”. He’s refreshingly honest and a human being. How many players, with little-to-no-provocation, have abandoned the club? I don’t need an apology from Xhaka, because I know his ire was not directed at me or Arsenal, it was directed at those fans who went beyond the pale in their attacks. Of course, in the moment it was the stadium booing him that led to him telling fans to “fuck off”, but you cannot isolate that from… Read more »


Top post. 👍🍺


Correct me if I am wrong but the issues didn’t start on that very day. He had replaced Mustafi long before as the fans’ choice scapegoat for everything that was going wrong under Emery. Fans would groan at every misplaced, under hit or over hit pass from him and actually on that very day the stadium erupted in cheers when his number came up. His reaction, cumulative to that point was to walk off slowly and that infuriated even the last fan who wasn’t yet on the Xhaka hate bandwagon and what followed next was regrettable both ways. But as… Read more »


Exactly – the issues did not start on that fateful day… as with any top international player (even for Switzerland!) I can remember the excitement when we signed him. He started with all the positivity in the world from the fans – the repeated yellows and suicidal reds, the senseless free-kicks given in dangerous positions, the clumsy challenges and – oh god – the ponderous lack of pace… that is what turned the fans. And whilst you can’t blame a player for lacking pace, or perhaps even for being one-footed – the arrogance and habitual repetition of his worst moments… Read more »

Alan Sunderland

When we signed him he was playing on left of a 4 3 3. When he plays on the left of a 4 3 3 hes a good player.


Judging from one or two bitter juvenile posts on here, that would sadly seem to be the case.

There unfortunately remains, in 2022, a section of our global society that can’t tell the difference between a game of football and death wishes/threats aimed at innocent third party children/family members.

They’re way too thick and retarded to realise when a line has been crossed.

One or two of the sad cretins are posting on this very thread.

It’s pathetic.

Alan Sunderland

There always has to be a scapegoat with the online warriors, Cedric was looking like the lad to take up the mantle, problem was he played as well as anyone could expect. Lacca seems to be the one now. Fingers crossed for them that Eddie starts Saturday, very easy target. Otherwise it’s back to xhaka., every other player has been deified on here all season so can’t be them or Mikel. So fingers crossed for them Eddie starts, if not it will be xhaka’s fault.

Tampa Jack

SarcasmBot- You say “there can be no forgiveness without contrition”. I interpret the following admission from the linked interview as a form of solid enough contrition. “. . . But I am also a human being.  So as a human being, hurt, I reacted.  I talked back, I cupped an ear, and when I got off the pitch I threw my shirt on the ground and went down the tunnel.  Was I wrong to do what I did? Yes.” You could argue about why it took two years to express this contrition– and fair enough, but there are fans who… Read more »


Sorry, for my money, there are things you simply can’t do – in football as well as in other walks of life. What that means is that once you have done them, you should – at an absolute minimum – apologize, and even then, you cannot expect others to forgive you. He still hasn’t properly apologized. Saying he was wrong is not the same as saying he’s sorry – and this is a grown adult, who fancies himself a leader. Your forgiveness/contrition argument isn’t for me, I guess. I’m willing to forgive basically anything as long as people own up… Read more »

Tampa Jack

SarcasmbBot- This is perfectly vaild point of view. I get it. I’ve moved on from that incident (his admission of wrongdoing today was still appreciated) and I just want him to do his best while he wears the badge (mindful that despite his real limitations, at the moment he is still our best healthy CM). I will be rooting for him. Again not strictly Arsenal related but two more points seem relevant to this idea of “forgiving” Xhaka. 1) Different people view apologies differently. For some all it takes is “Im sorry.” For others, they need added ” . .… Read more »


You’ve moved on from the incident, I’ve moved on from the player. The forgiveness thing – I think we’re talking past each other. Xhaka hasn’t done me an injury. I wasn’t at the stadium, and I hadn’t even been a particularly fierce critic. At the time, my opinion was that he wasn’t quite good enough to get us to top-4. Then he throws the captain’s armband on the ground and swears at fans like a kindergartner whose sandcastle got stepped on. And instead of an apology, he writes some wishy-washy bullshit. It’s not that he owed an apology to me.… Read more »


Well put. I feel there cannot be many true Gooners who would not have welcomed an honest apology and moved on.
The man suffers (and I use that word advisedly) from an unhealthy ego. An analysis of his patterns on and off the pitch show that most of his failings/issues stem from this.

I hope for his sake that he reaches a point of sufficiently deep self-reflection, to be able to address. If not, he will simply repeat the same destructive behaviour ad nauseam.


Well, I for one don’t require an apology from Xhaka – the guy was responding to being made a scapegoat for the clubs woes. The subsequent abuse and death wishes aimed at his children and his family sickens me to the core. An apology in return for being subjected to that….? Nah. Football is an incredible game, a font for many emotions and great escapism but when people can’t tell where fantasy ends and reality begins – ie the really important things in life, as opposed to sport – then as a global society we have a massive massive problem.… Read more »


Whilst we’re being deeply profound, I respectfully add this:

True forgiveness actually does not require contrition – quite the opposite. It is, by it’s very nature, unconditional. Anything less is negotiation, not forgiveness.

Tampa Jack

Totally agree- contrition not required. Said the very same lower in the post. In fact, I demand an immediate apology for not reading my post carefully enough.

Mayor McCheese

A beautiful comment.

Also, the moral outrage from some Gooners about that incident is a bit precious.

Move on.



The guy had people wishing death on his family.

Just because your moral compass is clearly fucked, don’t expect others to be so shallow.


Nobody is defending those absolute wankers.
But Xhaka didn’t blow up at them.
He blew up at people ironically clapping his substitution after a poor performance.
Now, I’m sure he didn’t distinguish between the two groups – but that’s his problem, not theirs.

Brady’s bunch

Yes agree nobody ever deserved to listen to their families being abused. But when you put on the shirt and take the wage you respect those that are paying their hard earned money to watch the club they love not behave the way he did and expect to get no stick.


Unpopular opinion but I’m with you on this one. A lot fans are apologetic now with the whole Xhaka saga, but he did not for once apologize for throwing the armband and telling the team’s own supporters to eff off. He’s a bit of an idiot.


“ I was surprised when his link with Roma was applauded by many in our fan base during the summer.”


We have been a mediocre team for too long. Xhaka is a mediocre player.

Fans would naturally assume his departure would lead to an upgrade and a step back to where we belong.

Petit's Handbag

Any Arsenal fan who assumes a departure will lead to an upgrade hasn’t been watching the last 18 years. Last Summer apart, most other windows have just seen dreadful business.

Brady’s bunch

Both him and Mikel should move on in the summer for me both have done their best but we need better but happy to be proved wrong on both.

No foot Norbert

Song was a good player, better than xhaka.


He talks a good talk. Decent player but will never be that missed once he does go, too many slip-ups stuck in our memories and not much great stuff.


OK, what moments come instantly to mind when you think of him?


Every red card that cost us points maybe.


5 times since he has been with us.

Mesut Ö’Neill

Red Cards!!


I do find these down votes weird when we’re just stating the painfull obvious.


Fascinated that none seem to be coming to mind…

Remember I said that he was a decent player. I’m not against him, he’s an Arsenal player, but I can’t think of positive memories so would love to hear what you’ve got.


I’m guessing the down votes are more a sign of the increased optimism and unity among the fan base rather than a belief the Xhaka is suddenly reborn as the team’s saviour.


Every time he stop other team’s counter attacks and took one for the team, either physically or in terms of yellow card … oh no it’s Xhaka, so it must be ill-discipline.


Is that why he’s playing at left back?


Because he does whatever is asked of him from the coaches regardless of how it clashed with his skills and capabilities? Think Mikel got that one wrong, but I’ve never seen Xhaka complain about being played out of position. For all his faults, can’t argue that he isn’t ateam player I guess.


The joke was a left back is literally closer to the fans than a midfielder.

Seems like not many got it.


Score the winner for Arsenal at WHL and the fans will love ya.

Man Manny

This may not be very popular here, but I love Granit Xhaka.
No matter the formation Arteta plays at the moment, Xhaka makes it stronger.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get somebody better this summer, but having a player like him on the bench, and using him to give our first choice a rest from time to time, is not a bad idea.

No foot Norbert

Until the next pen/red card


Every missed opportunity to cash in on Xhaka is like a kick in the bollocks. Been about as honest as I can be about Xhaka. He’s not good enough to be a central figure at a club with Arsenal’s stated goals. The rest is irrelevant. I’ve seen him “giving a 100 %” for 6 seasons now and it’s mostly bang average. Sometimes, statistically every 8 games by official PL stats, he shits the bed. Or to be more accurate he gets punished for shitting the bed. His almost-but-not-quite-fuckedit numbers aren’t data I have at hand. Far, far, far less frequently… Read more »

Bleeding gums murphy

Well said. The bottom line for me regardless of all the red cards and penalties given away is he is just to slow. If we have aspirations of getting back into champions league and challenging for premiership then we need to upgrade Xhaka. No team in world football was willing to pay more than 12 million for a 28 year old in the prime of his career, doesn’t that end any arguments about him being good enough.


Fuckin’ Excellent!

Alan Sunderland

As opposed to the price we got for ozil, aubameyang, Sanchez, Wilshire, Ramsey. Weak argument lad.

Bleeding gums murphy

Ozil and Aubamayang were down down to wages and we wanted then off them out. Sanchez was a swap and Jack and ramsey were injury prone and out of contract. I don’t understand your point. ?


Well. You fucking nailed that.

Alan Sunderland

Nailed what being a tool? The same shit with Arsene and ozil, numpties like you encourigng them are the problem.


Bang on for me. People rave about his good form. His good form is a series of games that he doesn’t fk up and is a solid 6-7.5 max (absolute max). He’s a team guy, he’s obviously a good trainer, coaches choice. But FFS, this isn’t u/12s where we’re trying to make him feel good. He’s paid millions of dollars to be bang average. It’s now multiple years past time we moved on. If lokonga had as much opportunity as xhaka guarantee he’d be at least as good with a full season under his belt likely better. But, we leant… Read more »


Xhaka should should think of his relationship with Arsenal fans in the context of the Japanese art of broken pottery Kintsugi, the resulting product is broken but beautiful.


Love him.


Still no apology for fucking off own fans, throwing the armband and the Jersey of our club? Really?


Looks like no apology from the fans either.

Alan Sunderland

Same as above, why does granite xhaka owe you or anyone else an apology?.


I much prefer Xhaka’s honest words than a statement commissioned by his agent and drafted by a sports management PR company expressing deep regret for “any hurt or offence my actions may have caused”.

Alan Sunderland

What has he got to apologise to you for? What did he ever do to you? What have you called him on here, a total stranger that you have never met and know nothing about. I am genuinely interested in why you think he owes you an apology, or anyone who for that matter.


Some fans deserve to be told to fuck off. Just because you pay to watch a match in person or invest in a team jersey it doesn’t give you the right to be a dickheat and a mean spirited individual.


Personally I love Granit Xhaka, the fans who booed him off the pitch deserved to be told to “fuck off”. Maybe he’s not the fastest but he always gives it everything, is always willing to fill in even if it’s not his natural position, is hardly ever injured and he’s honest. Are there better players in the world? Yes, of course. Are we a better team with him on the pitch? Most definitely. He may not be everyone’s cup of tea and he gets a very raw deal from the cunts with the whistle, but I’ll back him all the… Read more »


His best has never been good enough.
I’d far prefer he gave his best to someone else.


Well aside from one or two players you could say the same about Arsenal and its manager.


Good enough is a relevant term. He’s the best MF Arsenal has had for a few years.


Well said. I have been extremely critical of him as a player; I didn’t like his reaction to the crowd, it was unprofessional and ripping off the captains armband and the shirt was inflammatory and didn’t help. That said, the levels of abuse he has suffered – morons wishing death on his family – isn’t acceptable, no matter how badly he has played or his actions whilst walking off the pitch against Palace that day. On a human level, he is trying to build bridges with the fanbase and we should, equally on a human level, respect that and afford… Read more »

Alan Sunderland

Best post I’ve read on the whole sorry saga well said.


Lord Bentner and Eboue weren’t good enough, but neither got anything remotely like that amount of abuse.

Bleeding gums murphy

Bentner never nailed down a first team spot so would never get the level of negativity that Xhaka does. Eboue was excellent for a period and then went to pot culminating in getting subbed twenty minutes after coming on as a sub. That was painful to witness. They are not good examples for comparison


He would love playing at Santiago Bernabeu for Real then. They boo the team a lot, many times even when they are top of the league. Xhaka just has too big of an ego. He has a decent left foot, but he’s no Messi is he?

Alan Sunderland

Obviously he’s no messi, one is the best player who has ever lived, the other is a midfielder who is a reasonably good midfielder when played on the left side of a 4 3 3 . I’ll name 5 other players who are no messi, Brady bergkhamp Henry Adams pires. The 5 best players I’ve seen play for arsenal since I went to my 1st game in 1977.


You completely missed my point. Which is that he has an ego bigger than Messi. Even Messi gets booed in PSG but I don’t hear him turning against his own supporters?

Bleeding gums murphy

He seems to miss points a lot does Alan 🤣


Xhaka is alright.
Can be a bit reckless and is unfairly targeted by referees but he is alright..


Will alright get cl next season?


It might. Let’s check back.

Emi Rates

Why do birds suddenly appear…



Now there’s a track that takes me back to sitting in the pub porch with a bag of crisps and a bottle of coke, whilst the old man held court in the bar, emptying the fruit machines and feeding the jukebox. ‘Close To You’ by The Carpenters. 1970/71. I would have been four or five. Reminds me of my late dad, every time I hear it. Lovely song.


sorry granit but that ship sailed a long time ago, the best way to get closer to the fans is by joining another team this summer


I wouldn’t mind him getting closer to the fans by being in the stands.

Grumbling Gooner

Huge props to you Andrew for the headline and the way you wrote this. After watching the clips, it would be easy to lean into the inevitable knee jerk reaction from a hyperbolic headline.

Jamie Ryan

Even if Xhaka scored an own goal and was sent off in every game, he wouldn’t deserve the abuse so-called Arsenal fans give him. OK, give him stick for sure–but let it go and then support him. And those that defend this nasty abuse here and elsewhere online are no better than the ones who scream obscenities to his face.


Well said Jamie


As always xhaka opening his big mouth at the wrong time. Especially With The team struggling badly. And many fans fearing a slump and slide. Its not his fault as he’s always picked when fit. Even with his obvious flaws he still plays, to the extent he will play in an unsuited position/role let the team down and still be playing next game while others are never seen again. Our midfield has not been good enough for years and he’s a big part of that. I judge him on his football and its not good enough. Apart from that I… Read more »


He mentioned in this interview that he saw “pure hate” from fans’ faces as he walked off the pitch and into the tunnel when he was booed off. That’s something he can’t unsee and will forever change his relationship with the fans. I agree it must’ve been overwhelming, but fans are fickle and the pendulum swings both ways. Win the fans’ affection and they will adore you for life. Lest we forget he threw off the armband and riled up the fans after playing a stinker. Such a mixed bag. I do think we play better with Xhaka on the… Read more »


And didn’t bring in a half decent replacement


This seems like we are being prepared for GX to wear the armband again. Like when Laca isn’t playing with KT out for the season, whoever takes the armband tells us a bit more than MA likes to reveal.

As a fan this interview means a lot to my memory of Xhaka. But don’t give him the armband again.


He’s already refused the armband, when Eddie came on for Lacca and tried to slip it on him. I can’t say I’m surprised – would you wear it again in his position?


Personally I don’t have issue with his attitude.
My issue is his quality.


I would love to see Xhaka closer to the fans. I’m thinking right at the back in the Clock end.


His main deficiency is turning speed, acceleration and allowing it get to his emotions. All his other attributes and especially understanding of game state and ebb/flow of the game are very good. Those times he lost his head and makes a rash tackle; I believe he switches off the cost/benefit calculator that is usually his strength. many people criticise him without even offering understand or solution, so if I were his coach I would tell him that in those moments where he thinks the game is going against us and he needs to gee up the team or crowd with… Read more »

Death by 300,000 Passes

Xhaka still refuses to see the things from the perspective of the fans. They were “hating” him. But he does not bother to think about the road that drove them to this situation. You can blame one or two individuals for being irrational, but when the whole fanbase has something against you, you might want to think about your own actions, your own commitment. You say you are a very committed guy? Yes, but only when that suits you. How many times it has been said that he has to stop getting stupid cards? His response was “I am like… Read more »


I’m sure Granit is perfectly able to love the club without being fond of the dickhead, simple minded section of our fanbase who have no other communication skills except to boo when things are difficult and only cheer when everything is good. Those fans need to look up the meaning of the word support as they’re clearly not supporters. You would seem to be one of them.

Death by 300,000 Passes

I think it is quite obvious that not only the “dickhead” part of the fanbase have reservations.
And the the argument that the supporters have duty to support no matter what, is quite one-dimensional.


You’re questioning his commitment????

Death by 300,000 Passes

No. I don’t question his commitment to do his job. I question his “love” for the club. I question his eagerness and audibility to see the root causes for the situation he has found himself into.


Commitment to do his job is what I care about. I don’t give a monkeys what he does off the pitch.

Louqmane Soulaymane

You are just talking Bullocks my friend!!! First, not the whole “fan base have something against him” will you say Ederson should stop trying to make a pass presumed dangerous or that will cost the team every now and then, because some fans (Who knows nothing about football) thinks or says so!!!! You think its a coincidence, Granit has been a starter for every team and coach his played for? Or rumours that Even Pep G wanted him…. There are high risk and rewards situations, if the rewards outweighs the risk, that is what every smart human will or should… Read more »

Death by 300,000 Passes

Sorry, my friend, but your arguments, involving Ederson, fans who know nothing about football, and rumors about Pep G are hard to follow….


It’s not a rumour about Pep. Arteta categorically stated City were close to signing him.

Louqmane Soulaymane

We should Display Banner apologizing to Granit really!!!! Hearing his side of the story and how he felt…….If i were to be in the stadium for the next home games, mu mates and I would make that happen!!

Louqmane Soulaymane

My*…..Meanwhile, shame on those fans that insult and curse players’ kids or family when players have a bad game!!!

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