There was a time not too long ago that Granit Xhaka looked set for any club but Arsenal.
The Swiss midfielder had to turn in his captain’s armband after reacting poorly to fan jeers, and the 27-year-old missed three-straight matches.
Mikel Arteta saw something in the midfielder, who had been pivotal to Unai Emery’s plans before the coaching change and incident versus Palace, and implored him to reject Hertha Berlin and Newcastle United interest during the January transfer window.
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Xhaka did just that and has become pivotal to Arsenal’s season resurgence. Arteta explained what he loves about the midfielder, who received the captain’s armband from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after the striker subbed out of Wednesday’s 4-0 defeat of Norwich City.
“His commitment goes beyond anything normal. He’s a great example the way he lives this possession. I’m really happy we convinced him to stay and learn from the mistake he made.”
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So it would appear Xhaka’s future is secure and Bukayo Saka has signed a new deal.
Now what about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang?
“I’m really happy that Bukayo signed,” Aubameyang said after his two-goal game moved him into a tie for the Golden Boot race lead. “We’ll see. We’ll talk with the club and see what happens. I’m really focused on the games. Since Mikel is in we’re doing well. We’re working well. We have signs we’re improving.”
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Arteta says he’s leaving Aubameyang’s fate to the board of directors, though the Spaniard has long underlined the striker’s importance.
“The way he works every day he decided to get better,” Arteta said. “Hopefully he’s here for longer. He can see what we are trying to do and hopefully he can evolve.”
He later added, “Auba knows really well my thoughts towards him, the project I want to create and that I want him in that. I am positive and I will remain positive but things have to progress.”Follow @NicholasMendola