Granit Xhaka is in London!!! No wait, he is at a Borussia Monchengladbach training camp! Don’t be ridiculous, he just recently liked a photo on Instagram of a pair of clogs – he’s in Amsterdam!
Maddening, but Granit Xhaka is apparently joining our club…….Isn’t he?
The muddy waters of Twitter make finding the truth far more difficult than it should be. As Gooners though, we are used to it.
Most Arsenal fans are seasoned veterans when it comes to the seasonal transfer hype. There are a large number though, that cannot resist the herd of bandwagons that rumble through social media. Like a moth to a flame, they flock to the nearest story, regardless of substance, and greedily pore over the bogus words.
There are many who claim to have insider information, but the damning truth i
s that only a select few can really back up their news releases with anything that resembles truth.
Well, one of these people has just tweeted that a £30m deal has been agreed between Xhaka’s current club – Borussia Monchengladbach – and Arsenal. Personal terms are being discussed and the Swiss international should be in London this weekend to complete the formality of a medical.
This herald of honesty is none other than the BBC’s David Ornstein. With a proven track record for transfer dealings, Ornstein tweeted these details in the late afternoon of yesterday, and Twitter erupted into a red and white froth.
The hype before the big reveal had reached fever pitch, and Xhaka’s whereabouts were speculated upon more frequently than Lord Lucan, Shergar and Nessie, but does this midfielder warrant such attention? Or is it more a case of Gooners who are starved of reinforcements, thus invigorating the desperation of us all? After all, who doesn’t like the excitement of a big signing?
Xhaka is all that and a bag of crisps. This boy is special.
Growing up and going through the youth ranks with a certain Xherdan Shaqiri, Xhaka chose the less travelled path for his career rather than Shaqiri, who was lured by the big lights and mounds of lucre offered up by Bayern Munich. Xhaka though, opted to join Gladbach.
It was a savvy manoeuvre. Whilst his compatriot struggled to break into the star studded Bayern side, moved to Inter and again found the going tough, Xhaka used his undoubted talent to thrust himself into Andre Schubert’s plans.
At the time of writing, Xhaka has played 108 Bundesliga games. Shaqiri has played 89 top flight matches. Not much disparity there, but if you take into account that Shaqiri’s total was acquired from three different clubs, in three different countries, it shows the difference in routes by both of the boys from Basel – and the level headedness of Granit at such a tender age. It isn’t all positive though, if you are to believe some….
A lot has been made of Xhaka’s ‘suspect’ temperament. Only one player has racked up more red cards in the last three seasons than the Swiss midfielder – he has earned five, with three of those coming from the season just finished.
What isn’t freely mentioned though – and a massive thank you to @Orbinho for this excellent fact – is that whilst Xhaka has taken a shine to the colour red recently, he has also committed 73 fouls in 28 games. Some will say that he will be a complete liability in the physical hotbed of the Premier League, but these numbers also point to a clean tackler. With 73 fouls inflicted upon the opposition, a return of five yellow cards means that although he is in the thick of the action, he normally obtains the ball – along with the man…..
A combative midfielder is a great acquisition, but with Coquelin already more than satisfying the role, then perhaps Wenger would be best concentrating on a striker? That maybe so, but if a distinct improvement is available, surely obtaining them is a no-brainer?
Coquelin is excellent as a defensive shield, but is akin to a fish out of water when more technical aspects are needed. Xhaka is an all-action player. Last season, he played mainly as a defensive midfielder, but he was also utilised as a box to box player, and when he was (four times in the Bundesliga), then he was only on the losing side once. That indicates a competency in this position, which is also a guide on his ball control.
One of the weaknesses of our last season was a slow transition from defence to attack. Or at least a ponderous approach to it. Xhaka may not possess Ozil-like passing, but he is more than adept at starting moves that can hurt the opposition.
The most impressive thing about Xhaka however? He is not only his club captain – whether it be the Champions League or the domestic fixtures – but he also wears the armband for his country. At 23 years old.
Xhaka earns his managers trust via consistency and sheer effort on the pitch. The tradition for a captain is a gnarled warrior, battle-hardened due to years on the pitch. Xhaka being only 23 shows he can be relied upon, and he will only get better.
This young man is represented by family members rather than agents – and this will only aid him. He will remain grounded and forever strive for improvement, rather than losing his hunger. A guiding hand is far better than a begging hand, and if Xhaka was in it for the money, then he would have gone elsewhere. There can be no doubt though, that he will be handsomely rewarded for his time with us.
The mouth waters when surmising on the potential match ups in the Arsenal midfield next season. Xhaka, with his tactical acumen and his incredible stamina levels, has an advantage over most of his new midfield teammates already, and that is because he can adapt. If the situation demands he play as the more defensive of the two central midfielders, he is more than able. If he needs to push up, he has also proven he can do so.
Perhaps the Arsenal pivot may not be dead yet?
Either way, with his impending signing all but revealed, we have permission to get excited. A top class talent, who will only improve with help from coaches and teammates – as well as age.
His signing is another piece of top work in the market by the club. With proven class already in the team – Cech, Ozil and Alexis – Xhaka will have all the tools supplied to him, to enable his growth from excellent, to titanic midfielder.
He has the toughs. He has the smarts. If he can learn to ignore the red mist, then the sky is the limit for Granit.
Can Xhaka make it at Arsenal?