ESPN pundit says Granit Xhaka is now a completely different player
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images

ESPN pundit says Granit Xhaka is now a completely different player

Steve Nicol has told ESPN that Granit Xhaka is just a completely different player under Mikel Arteta, labelling the Arsenal midfielder absolutely brilliant after their win over Everton.

Xhaka’s turnaround remains one of the most remarkable aspects of the Gunners’ journey to the top of the Premier League table. The Swiss, of course, looked to be the brink on a few occasions.

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Arteta ensured that he stayed put. And the Spaniard put real faith in the midfielder, ultimately finding what seems to be the ideal role for Xhaka. He has been outstanding playing ahead of the holding midfielder this season.

Nicol lauds Xhaka turnaround at Arsenal

He was very good against Everton on Wednesday as the Gunners went five points clear at the top of the table. And Nicol suggested that he has been left almost baffled by what has happened to Xhaka over the last year and a half.

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“Xhaka, for a long time in the Premier League, was looked upon as just a good player who had had his time at Arsenal, and it was time to move on. That was until Arteta appeared,” he told ESPN.

“This is not the same player. I don’t know what Arteta’s telling him, I don’t know what he’s doing with him, but this guy has taken a step forward and is a huge part of Arsenal being top of the league.

“It’s certainly not something we would have said about Xhaka 18 months ago, not a chance. The guy’s absolutely brilliant.”

Midfielder could now leave an Arsenal hero

Xhaka has silenced all of his critics since the start of last season. He was brilliant for his country at Euro 2020, almost frustratingly so, after struggling for so long with the Gunners following his £30 million move.

Few would have anticipated that he would carry that form over into the Premier League season. And even fewer would imagine that he would improve even further this term – particularly when you consider how last season ended for Arteta’s men.

He no longer wears the captain’s armband. But he is clearly a leader within the side. And he is also playing well enough to get in the team in his own right.

There is an opportunity for Xhaka to depart the Emirates as an Arsenal great. That is amazing to think about when you consider the depths his spell in North London fell to at certain stages.

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