Sunday, May 19, 2024

Edu and Arteta lead tributes as Xhaka says goodbye

Sporting director Edu and manager Mikel Arteta have thanked Granit Xhaka for his seven years of service after Bayer Leverkusen confirmed the signing of the Switzerland international on a five-year deal.

Xhaka’s move to Germany draws a line under a tempestuous spell in North London during which he spectacularly lost the support of the terraces and, against the odds, won it back again.

He was both a remarkably consistent presence – he leaves Emirates Stadium just three appearances short of 300 – while also being such an erratic character that you could never quite figure him out.

We thought he was going to be a box-to-box midfielder. He wasn’t. We settled on him being a holding midfielder. And he made a fist of it. What nobody saw coming (Arteta aside) was his rebirth as an attacking threat, which he pulled off with aplomb over the last 18 months.

Throughout his time at the club, Xhaka was always respected by his coaches and teammates who always considered him an important voice in the dressing room and even voted him club captain.

“Granit has been a big part of our club for a long time,” reflected Edu. “He has given us great commitment and quality over the years, playing such an important role in our progression and success. He leaves us with our huge respect and thanks. We wish Granit all the best for the future.”

Mikel Arteta added: “We are saying goodbye to a fantastic player and person loved by all of us. It has been an incredible journey together for him and he has given absolutely everything for this club.

“The influence Granit has had on his team mates on the pitch and colleagues at the club, will tell you just how popular he is.

“We cannot thank Granit enough for his service and contribution to this club over the years. We wish Granit and his family all the best in the next step of their lives.”

Bidding farewell to the club via a message on Instagram, Xhaka wrote:

Gunners, it’s been some journey – and all that’s left is for me to say thank you.

I’ve spent seven years at Arsenal. The club has become such an important part of my life – and it’s not easy to leave. But now is the right time for a new adventure.

There are so many people I need to thank – the managers I played for, all my team-mates and the staff behind the scenes.

And I especially want to thank all of you. Everyone knows we’ve been through some tough times. But we came through them together – and I’ll never ever forget the feeling I had each time we won the FA Cup or whenever I heard you singing my name. Pure goosebumps!

I will always carry Arsenal in my heart. Once a Gunner, always a Gunner.

Thank you ❤️

 

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A post shared by Granit Xhaka (@granitxhaka)

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Gunnaration

Thank you Granit!
You really had a grind!

David C

Left with his head held high!

Best of luck Xhaka.

Hopefully we play your new team in the CL soon 🙂

Steve Cleverly

Always wore his heart on his sleeve! Amazingly exciting player this season. I’m sad to see him go but hope he continues to great things for Leverkusen. We will miss him

Daveod

❤🤍❤🤍

Reality check

Played in the transitional period of the club, the worst of the last 30. Played so that others may shine, played and never hid, the first to stand up for his team mates.. model professinal and always available. The most misunderstood player of the Emirates era, glad he could leave with head held high.

Daveo

It’s a pity it took until his age 30 season for us to stop playing him in a deep lying playmaker or #6 role. He just cannot handle the pace of the league in those positions, but further forward his precision passing, ability to drift into spaces and play link up made him a so much more effective player. Heck of a ride he had. I respected the dude by the end, even liked him a bit this year, which seemed implausible for a while there. Clearly a good team guy and a hard worker. Looking back at this last… Read more »

Reality check

This is a guy every manager trusted but still couldn’t get the best out of. Mikel minimised all his weaknesses and maximised all his strengths, a masterstroke in management. If nothing else could convince you of Mikel’s ability as a manager, this is it.

Heavenly Chapecoense

I think his role with Switzerland has always been more offensive than the role he played at Arsenal bar the past season.

Doghouse

Agree, when playing for Switzerland he looked outstanding yet when he came back to us he was given the holding role because we didn’t have or buy anyone who could play in that position, its where his frustration came from for getting carded so many times, had we had a Kante like mid player who we were close to signing to mop up & do the leg work he would of been the player we saw last season for many seasons. Class player.

Daveo

I disagree a bit there. Switzerland always sit deep and soak up pressure and counter. Xhaka is solid in a defensive formation that doesn’t allow open spaces. Swiss play completely different to the way any arsenal team ever tries to play.

Public Elneny

Between Gilberto and Partey, we’d been so deprived of quality defensive mids, we’d forgotten what a good one really does. Xhaka liked a tackle and to act hard, so we thought ‘he’ll do’. He was simply the most defensive minded of our mids for ages, you couldn’t get Ramsey, Wilshere or Guendouzi to sit, but someone had to

Even with Partey we tried to unlock his attacking potential for almost 2 seasons before accepting he was a pure DM, and far more natural playing deep than Xhaka

I’m glad we’ve embraced the DM now

John C

Clearly the role of defensive midfielder has evolved with tackling almost obsolete in modern football. The important attributes for a modern defensive midfielder are defensive awareness, ability to cover ground and quick feet amongst others. None of these are Xhaka’s strongest attributes. But Xhaka is clearly the kind of character who helps clean up after a party. He doesn’t do it because he wants to but because he feels he has to, and in the absence of others chipping in he’ll step up. It’s a testament to his character, but you do feel it’s perhaps been exploited a little by… Read more »

Unnecessarilystupid

That was not the worst period for the last 30 years lol. Our most successful modern manager at the time got fired for taking back-handers in 95, and Stewart Houston was his replacement.

I can assure you that was worse than anything during Xhaka’s time here.

Shivam Nigam

Fully agreed mate! Always supported him and lived him as an individual. Always available albeit with his shortcomings but his strength as well.

Pimu

What a journey. Can’t think of another that compares to be honest! He’s leaving us on a high and I’ll always have a warm place in my heart for him. Showed real guts and determination to turn things around.

John C

I honestly love this move, It’s the sign of a strong, confident club that truly believes in what it’s trying to do.

Back yourself Arteta and get rid of Partey too!.

Daveo

Last bit is weird. Honestly, I’d be excited if we signed Lavia, but TBH I think we’d be much better as a team keeping Partey one more year and then signing a guy like Lavia (or similar) next season. Partey is world class when fit and healthy – nothing less. For 2/3 of the season you could have made arguements for Partey as the premier #6 in world football. He faded out (maybe in part due to the loss of Saliba and some niggles), but he’s a brilliant footballer.

T.A.

Completely agree.

John C

Nah, Partey went missing when we needed him, not just physically but mentally.

He’s a very gifted player but even though he’s one of our senior players he’s neither a leader or figure of authority within the team. It’s telling that Jorginho had more authority walking through the front door than Partey has built in 3 years.

If we can get a decent fee for him I definitely think it’s time to move on.

OdalGooner

As much as that hurts, I agree completely. He’s a big fella, and he’s obviously gifted, but he’s no leader. They don’t all need to be – but in his position, you do. Granit was, if anything, someone who got stuck in and put himself on the front line. Partey’s brilliant, but he needs specific players around him. And he just isn’t who we should build around. Even before Rice came into play.

Daveo

I agree he made some costly errors in the final 1/3 of the season and was off form, but we aren’t a top 2 team without him. 2/3 of the season he’s nothing short of elite. There is already a lot of turnover in the team. I think we need him this season, move on next season.

Jimster

Is there something in the background with Party that could have some bearing on his form, didn’t seem himself last season, except sporadically excellent! Sort that out…oh and some shooting practice 🤔

Daveo

He was SO SO consistent until about mid Feb when Saliba went down. Before that he was pure class. A huge part of why we were so good.

Santi’s Thigh Grab

Partey’s availability at Arsenal has only been 65%. Not good enough for a £50m signing and coupled with his age, you can see the warning signs. Sell, recoup some of that £50m and reinvest. Availability, poor passing and mentality at the end of the season enough for me to want to cash in.

karl g

Get rid is a bit strong for a player that gave us so much last year. I do think that Party is not a player for rotation though and agree it would be better to find someone else, if we get a good offer for Thomas.

John C

He’s clearly a fantastic player on his day but that’s only really the case 50% of the time. I just think we have to be ruthless to take that next step

Lord Bendnter

If only he was a few years younger. Arteta would have made him our rock. Will be missed. Thank you Granit :'(

Mark

Glad he is leaving on good terms and getting properly recognized for his contributions to the club. He was a huge part in the rebuild the last couple of years both on the field and off and although he certainly has had some ups and downs most will remember his time fondly at Arsenal.

Mark

Granit and Arteta deserve all the praise for proving so many people wrong. I wish him the very best and he’ll always be welcome back at the Emirates.

Malvin

Thank you Granit

Man Manny

I pray we never have to play Bayer Leverkusen with him on the pitch. I’d feel bad to see him on the losing side (cos I know we’d win). That is just how much I love Granit.

Shiver me Timber it's Zinedine Rice

Thank you Granit, you were our rock

Moff

Thank you & good luck Xhaka. Always played with passion and always played for the shirt. What more can you ask for. Bon chance with your new club.

Spanish Gooner

Something that gives me hope that our project is really going to explode is the confidence we have to upgrade previously key players. Klopp held onto guys like Milner and Henderson for too long and that limited the club in maintaining their incredible level. I don’t believe we will do the same.!

The Only Olivier is Giroud

Tad on the sauce already but pouring a drink for this guy. Stuck it out during some dark times and had the guts to see it out till the end. Classy as hell compared to some previous Club captains of late, in spite of the explosive persona. Wish him well.

Giuseppe Hovno

can someone do a collage of Xhaka tackling people

wrightstuff8

Don’t care what any one says. I respect you so much Granit. You are a warrior and I will miss you. All the best bro.

Alex

Love for Granit

Mizog

You don’t know what you’ve fit until it’s gone

Arsenalfanthem

I’m sure a lot of us will say he wasn’t out favourite player, as fans we’ve had some ups and downs with him as a player, during a very difficult time for our club. He wears his heart on his sleeve which obviously got him in trouble at times but what cannot be denied is that Granit gave everything of himself he could for The Arsenal, if you listen to any of his managers, coaches, and team mates they’ve always said that. Shame it took so long for a manager to figure out your best position for us, but glad… Read more »

Ozzie

Not sure if I’ve ever been this sad to see a player leave.
Danke Granit!

Seegeesee

He pissed me off for so many years. Like he pissed off most other people. It’s wonderful to say goodbye to him feeling like we wanted him to stay, to have a tinge of regret but most importantly to no longer be pissed off with him as a player and rather to see him as probably the player Arsene thought he signed 7 years ago. Thanks Granit. What a dude.

Qwaliteee

His farewell message had Mrs Q in tears.

What an incredible guy. We are all going to miss him, I’m sure.

Thanks Granit for all that you’ve done for this club.

May your future bring nothing but happiness for you and your family.

Once a gunner, always a gunner.

AusDrexler

A truelly remarkable story to be fair. He was gone for all money… but he turned it around and leaves with everyones respect. Brilliant.

Gunner1971

Top pro with a massive heart.
How can you not love him?

StuArse

After all his ups and downs, this is probably the most sad I have been to see a player leave in years, maybe since Cesc or a few years later Sagna.
I do think it’s the right time though and he leaves on a real high. Good luck and thank you!

Collibosher

Granit took a few for the team when things were not so good. Both in terms of cards, and the blame. As the team improved, he got the opportunity to show what he can do. But he never hid.

People said that he was slow, but he was first on the scene when a team-mate scored, outrunning allcomers! 😀.

OdalGooner

Thank you, big guy.
I think you just put your family first, and that’s the best and most important thing anyone can ever do. It’s what you can look back on, years from now, and know you made the right choice.
We’re just football supporters. Your kids are so much more.
Thank you for your service to our club.
On all levels.

Teryima Adi

Wow, this all made me teary. I miss the lad already. Thanks for all the great times you gave us, Xhaka. We love you so so much.

Ozzie

Who are those same four Xhaka haters down voting everything? If you hate Xhaka you hate football.

Bill Hall

All the best fella, you had a tough time and took a lot of unnecessary and undeserved shit but the way you picked yourself up and fucking took the midfield by storm the last couple of seasons shut people up!

Sorry to see you go but totally understand! Respect!

Francesc

People keep talking about his character and leadership but I barely saw it on the pitch. Never saw him delivering at the critical moments in fact he was a liability with all his disciplinary issues (Man City game at home first thing that springs to my mind). Overall an average neat and tidy player with a great leftfoot.

Anders Limpar

Uh-oh you forgot to put on your rose tinted glasses! For me you’ve summed him up very well, however you’d think we’ve just sold Lothar Matthaus reading some of the comments here and online.

EmileSmithWhoa

With fans like this…who needs – Tottenham

Anders Limpar

Yes of course, you’re not a real fan if you aren’t a complete sycophant, and have the temerity to form an opinion rather than following the crowd like sheep.

Ozzie

You can accuse him of lacking ability but not discipline. Never had a second yellow in his life. Taking one for the team is not a lack of discipline.
As for leadership, an informed opinion would be those that know him, every youngster , teammste, manager… according to you every single one of them is wrong?

Geefive

Thanks, Granit. Much respect! A great contract for him to continue his career for a good length of time, and decent money for a 30 year old in for us. Pretty great deal on both ends. All the best Xhaka!

EmileSmithWhoa

What a leader and example for all, especially our fans.

It Is What It Is

Thanks my G

Winterburn Wanderers

Most emotional departure since Cazorla, what an important player and person for the club.

Ozzie

Torreira, Guendozi, AMN, Ceballos etc were all more gifted footballers than Granit Xhaka, but when it comes to character, none of them is fit to tie his bootlaces.

compoarse

What a strong, defiant, inspirational player you were. Even when you were sent off it was always for your team. Thank you Granit.

Kunz

Say what you want about Xhaka but he leaves a huge gap in our midfield that needs to be filled.
Great player, wish him all the best 👌

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