Arsenal manager Unai Emery has confirmed midfielder Granit Xhaka has been stripped of the captaincy following his behaviour against Crystal Palace (Sky Sports).
The 27-year-old was substituted off against the Eagles, and fans jeered as he ambled towards the touchline. Xhaka was then seen swearing at the crowd, cupping his ears and removing his shirt before heading down the tunnel.
Emery has taken his time over the situation, and eventually decided to take the armband away from the Switzerland international – with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang named as the club’s new captain.
Xhaka’s future at the club is now in serious doubt, with many anticipating he will be sold in January.
Should that be something the Gunners want to facilitate, they will obviously need a replacement for him:
Arsenal could do with a powerhouse in the engine room and AC Milan star Franck Kessie is just that.
The Gunners have been linked before (The Sun), but should be stepping up any lingering interest in a player who has made a big difference to the Rossoneri’s midfield over the past couple of years.
Kessie has far better defensive discipline than Xhaka, but also has impressive ball-carrying ability.
Atletico Madrid lost Rodri to Manchester City in the summer, and would surely not welcome any interest in Thomas Partey.
But the tenacious Ghanaian supposedly has a release clause of just £43.5 million (Marca), which would seem even better after Xhaka’s potential sale.
Partey has been a vital cog in Diego Simeone’s Atleti machine in recent years, and he would undoubtedly bolster Arsenal’s holding midfield area.
Abdoulaye Doucoure would be a fine signing for Arsenal, and he already has a wealth of Premier League experience.
The Frenchman is currently playing in a struggling Watford team, and the Gunners may fancy their chances of poaching a player who could easily be playing for a top-six side.
£70,000-a-week enforcer Doucoure (Spotrac) has the ability to play multiple different midfield roles, but ultimately would bring steel and physicality to an Arsenal midfield that really needs it.
In 2017, he said (Mirror) he would prefer a move to Arsenal over Liverpool and Tottenham.