Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has given huge praise to the improvement made by Granit Xhaka.
Xhaka, who cost the Gunners £35million (BBC), has been an ever-present in the starting XI during the last few months.
The Swiss defensive midfielder has become a go-to figure for the manager in the centre of the park and is recognised as one of the more senior figures in the squad at the Emirates Stadium.
He recently passed 200 first-team appearances for the North London club and is an 88-time capped Switzerland international.
Despite his fair share of criticism and controversy in the past, Arteta feels that Xhaka has stepped up this season compared to the previous one.
“We talk about what happened this season in terms of performances and consistency. I think he’s even better than last season. Certainly after the Burnley game I think he made another step forward and he’s played because he deserves to play,” Arteta said, as quoted by Football.London.
Xhaka is a figure that often divides opinion with the Arsenal fanbase, which is not ideal for a player that starts most games for them.
He’s a ball-playing central midfielder that likes to dictate possession from deep and he’s shown he’s capable of excellent individual displays.
But the criticism comes in the lack of urgency at times to pass forward, as well as question marks regarding his pace, athleticism and discipline.
There has certainly been a real aggression and passion of late from the midfielder to succeed for Arsenal, but whether he can be the type of player that really drives the team up the table remains to be seen.