'My suitcases were packed': 'Phenomenal' player says Mikel Arteta is the only reason he is still at Arsenal
In an interview with CBS Sports, Xhaka says that he was close to departing when Arteta came in but the Spaniard convinced him to stay.
Arteta got Xhaka to give him a chance for six months and he is still at the club now, which he says has a huge future ahead.
Xhaka has had his fair share of critics during his time at Arsenal, but says he is feeling like he has a better relationship with the fans these days.
Xhaka says Arteta convinced him to stay at Arsenal
“It’s a shame I only have two years more on my contract. Let’s see what happens after two years. But I am seeing a big, big future for this club. Arteta is the reason why I’m still at this football club,” said Xhaka.
“All of the club knows why I am still here, because three years ago I was gone. My suitcases were packed and finished, but I had a meeting with Mikel when he came – he wanted to hear my opinion about what had happened and I explained to him.
“I remember it exactly: I told him, ‘It has nothing to do with you’ because I didn’t know him and I never played with him. I knew his name but not the person and I said, ‘I’m gone, I can’t wear the shirt any more.’ He said, ‘Give me a chance for six months and if you are still not happy, I’m the guy who will help you. Not to run away, but you can leave.’
“I didn’t speak with family, with nobody, and normally I don’t do that. But I said, ‘OK, Mikel – I will stay for you.’ And I’m still here. I feel much more love from the fans, from my side as well. I am trying to build something with them again. It needs time, for sure, but I have the feeling that we are in a good way for sure.”
Some Gunners fans may bemoan that Xhaka is still around and that Arteta has not sourced another central midfielder to replace him during his reign.
Arteta has previously labelled Xhaka a ‘phenomenal‘ player, so it is clear how much he rates him and that is why he kept him around.
Last month, it was claimed that Xhaka could leave Arsenal next summer but we will have to wait and see how that one plays out.