Mikel Arteta has cast a canopy of certainty over the transfer status of Granit Xhaka, while at the same time revealing the uncertainty surrounding Thomas Partey’s latest injury.
Xhaka was rumored to be leaving Arsenal (most commonly for Roma) throughout Switzerland’s run at EURO 2020, but Arteta has clearly had his say on the matter, thus “a key player” is set to remain at the Emirates Stadium.
“Xhaka is staying. He wanted to play. He is a key player for us.”
To say it’s been an up-and-down five years for Xhaka at Arsenal would be an understatement. One week, he looks like a genuinely world-class defensive midfielder, and the next he’s being stripped of the captaincy after swearing at the club’s supporters as he leaves the field. The truth, of course, is always somewhere in the middle, but the value of Xhaka’s experience and mentality cannot be underestimated.
Every side needs a tenacious, ever-present figure to set the tone every single day, and Xhaka appears to be that player at Arsenal. He’s played 32, 38, 29, 31 and 31 Premier League games since signing for the club in 2016.
Speaking of ever-presence (or a lack thereof), Partey picked up his latest injury — to his right ankle — in the Gunner’s 2-1 preseason defeat to Chelsea on Sunday. It doesn’t sound like Partey will be fit when Arsenal kick off their 2021-22 PL campaign next Friday, Aug. 13, away to newly promoted Brentford.
“I just had a talk with the doctor. He’ll have a scan tomorrow. At the moment it’s not looking good.”
Partey’s first season at Arsenal wasn’t half-bad, when he was able to take the field, which wasn’t nearly often enough. He made 24 appearances in the PL, but only 16 of them were starts as he missed at least three consecutive games through injury on three occasions.
He missed all of November and December with two separate injuries, the latter of which occurred in his first game back from the previous, then he missed two more weeks in February.
At 28 years old, Partey’s health and fitness aren’t likely to get any better. Given he’s only in the second year of a five-year, $350,000-per-week contract, this is hardly an encouraging sign for Partey’s long-term future.