Arsenal fans need to wake up and take off their rose-tinted spectacles regarding the departure of Granit Xhaka to Roma. If you are one of those crying into the sleeve of your new overpriced £100 replica shirt because he is about to leave the Emirates, I suggest you stop immediately, because Xhaka hasn’t lived up to expectations since he arrived in 2016.
It’s been a frustrating time for the player, the club, and the fans with the Swiss midfielder suffering from lapses in concentration and judgement whilst also having to contend with the so-called ‘marmite’ effect. However, like him or not, the second phase of the season saw him as one of the most consistent performers, but let’s just clarify that point by adding that the majority of the side was incredibly average.
Yes, he’s scored some blistering goals and offered some resistance on occasion but he’s been sent off, disrespected the fans and the shirt, given away unnecessary goals, and has often been caught napping in defence. If you think that’s good enough to merit a place in an Arsenal side struggling to be above average, then you must be out of your mind.
Granit Xhaka would be the type of player who is given regular praise in a much better side for doing the basics, but in this Arsenal side, it’s clear that as an attacking midfielder he falls short, and in a defensive role, he lacks the ability. If Xhaka was a feature of Wenger’s Invincibles squad, he probably would have seemed better than he actually is because of the distracting talent around him, but that hasn’t been the case since he breezed through the doors for the inflated price of £35m.
Furthermore, it was unfortunate that as the better players started to leave Arsenal or were jettisoned (Sanchez, Ramsey, Cazorla, and Wilshere), it became obvious that Granit Xhaka offered workman-like performances, nothing more. I’m happy to admit that he was the best partner for Thomas Partey from a limited pool of talent, easily better than Elneny and Ceballos which wasn’t very difficult.
Yet, it was clear that despite Arteta’s compliments, Arsenal needed a fully developed midfielder that could be equally proficient in attack and defence and that could cast a stronger presence on the field of play. Xhaka wasn’t a commander, he was more of a foot soldier.
He will look back with mixed feelings over his spell in North London where he endured hate and was subjected to various disgraceful threats. I wish him well on his move but is there seriously anyone out there that considered him world-class or a shining light in any Arsenal side.
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