Granit Xhaka: Winning the fans back
LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 19: Granit Xhaka of Arsenal during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and Arsenal at Selhurst Park on May 19, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

October 2019, Arsenal had let a two-goal lead slip at home to Crystal Palace and Unai Emery hauled club captain Granit Xhaka off for winger Bukayo Saka in search for a third and winning goal, which did not come.

Xhaka was left frustrated by the decision to bring him off, gesturing to the fans, swearing at them and then taking his shirt off and walking down the tunnel.

Many fans predicted it could be the last time they saw Xhaka in an Arsenal shirt. A month later, Emery was sacked, and by December Mikel Arteta had taken charge.

Xhaka was stripped of the captaincy and Pierre Emerick Aubameyang was given the armband, but the Swiss international remained at the club.

Resurgence 

Since Arteta’s arrival at the club, Xhaka has regained the trust of his teammates and the fans and was a crucial member of the FA Cup winning side in 2020 and subsequently has re-established himself as an integral member of the Arsenal midfield this season, alongside new signing Thomas Partey

Xhaka’s consistency this season, and desire to impress the fans and manager has gone a long way to re-earning the trust of the Emirates faithful, but has he gained his fan favourite status back, or do fans still regard him in a poor light?

The midfielder has made 44 appearances this season and has one goal and two assists two his name, as well as being returned the armband on multiple occasions during the season.

He has been solid in the defensive midfield role for the Gunners, especially since the new year where the club have won the third most points in the league, after both Manchester clubs. 

Xhaka joined the club in the summer of 2016 but has divided opinion since his arrival and always struggled to gain the love of the whole fanbase at the Emirates, despite outlasting his many midfield compatriots and could very easily find himself on the transfer list this summer.

The arrival of Partey last season for £45million was a statement signing from the club, and with a ‘big overhaul’ promised this summer and the position a priority amongst the fanbase, Xhaka could find himself leaving North London this year. 

There are others in the squad that fans may prefer to see depart this summer, but with outgoing transfers Xhaka may find himself safe for another year, if he so wants. 

Lucas Torreira spent the season on loan and has indicated his preference to leave London, as has on-loan midfielder Dani Ceballos, who will return to Real Madrid following two-years in North London, leaving the side short of defensive minded midfielders ahead of next season

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