How big a signing could Granit Xhaka be for Arsenal?
Granit Xhaka was Arsenal’s first major signing of the summer, ahead of the likes of Rob Holding, Lucas Perez and Shkodran Mustafi joined the club. He joined the Gunners for a fee of around £30 million from German club Borussia Monchengladbach, before heading to the Euros for Switzerland. Now he is fully fit, integrated and starting for Arsenal on a regular basis, but could he turn out to be the most important of all Arsenal’s signings this summer?
The Swiss international missed the decisive penalty for Switzerland against Poland at Euro 2016, but that doesn’t seem to have affected him too much. The man who describes himself as a born leader captained his ex-team and has clearly come with the desire to start every game for Arsenal. Playing as a defensive midfielder, he offers a more combative style of play that the Gunners have missed for some time. Francis Coquelin has tried to show a combative style of defensive work from midfield, probably the only since Gilberto Silva left the club. The likes of Alex Song, Denilson, Diaby were all different players. Meanwhile, Mohamed Elneny is more of a box-to-box type player.
A 23-year-old with experience of being a captain and playing a defensive, aggressive style is something Arsenal have needed for some time. Xhaka also offers a good passing range, and was highly regarded against both Leicester and Watford for his roles in building attacks. It may also be no coincidence that Xhaka played no part in the 3-4 defeat to Liverpool, but played the games where Arsenal only conceded one in two.
In games that rely on more defending, Xhaka could partner Coquelin, or try and balance the team with Elneny. In the more attacking games, he could offer something exciting with Cazorla, or again partner Elneny. It is hard to see how someone of his style, and his pricetag, would not play most of the games this season.
Arsenal play some really attractive football, but one thing that caught them out last season was the ability to keep clean sheets, often because of a lack of concentration. Xhaka has the quality and experience to deal with that, and offer something different as well. If Arsenal can use that to their advantage, and win games they didn’t last season, then who knows where they could end up. Perez and Mustafi were both vital signings for Arsenal, but Xhaka could be the man who changes it all for them and be the most crucial of signings to Arsene Wenger.
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