Mikel Arteta has explained how he has told Granit Xhaka how much he likes him, and suggested that he has been amazed by the way that his relationship with the Arsenal fans has started to improve, in comments reported by The Telegraph.
Xhaka’s future looked to lie away from the Emirates. He has come in for a lot of criticism, and infuriated the large majority of the supporters with his reaction to being substituted against Crystal Palace earlier this season.
At that stage, it was unclear whether he would play for Arsenal again. But the Switzerland international has been back in the fold more recently.
And it appears that he has an opportunity to return to a prominent role following Arteta’s arrival.
The new Gunners boss – who confirmed that he wanted to bring Xhaka to Manchester City before his move to North London – shared just how big a fan of the midfielder he is ahead of his first game in charge.
“I told him how much I like him and what I expect from him,” he said, as reported by The Telegraph. “How important he is for the team. I am here to help him, I want him to feel that we are right behind him. Not just myself but the whole club. If we can get the people in the right way as well, the fans with him, I think it will be helpful for the team, which is where it matters.”
“He has done some really good things and now he has got stuck in a very difficult situation that, I think, was growing and growing and growing and one day it exploded. But I have been amazed as well by how this relationship [with the supporters] is starting to come back a little bit and I think the fans have been very very positive about him, and him as well.
“Obviously it is difficult to change completely the scenario from where he was to a magnificent one. But I think we are in the right direction with him.”
It should be not be a shock if Xhaka does win his critics over. There always tends to be some surprise names who benefit most when a new manager comes in.
Arteta is seemingly giving Xhaka every chance to be a revelation during his tenure. Admittedly, some Arsenal fans may have less faith in the 27-year-old. But it will be fascinating to see whether Arteta’s appointment proves to be a turning point for Xhaka.