It certainly looks like Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has found the solution to have solidity in the central midfield after the club captured the signing of Borussia Monchengladbach skipper Granit Xhaka on 25th of May for a reported fee of around 30 milllion euros.
On sealing Xhaka’s signature, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said-
“Granit Xhaka is an exciting young player, already with good Champions League and Bundesliga experience. We have been watching him for a long time now and he is a player who will add quality to our squad.”
Xhaka, dubbed as the ‘Young Schweinsteiger’ by his international coach Hitzfeld, primarily plays as a holding midfielder for both his country and club and has really been instrumental. He has been a full international for Switzerland since 2011, gaining more than 40 caps.
On 25 August 2012, he made his Bundesliga debut in the team’s opening match of the season, a 2–1 home win against Hoffenheim. He scored his first and only goal of the season in a 3–2 loss at FC Nürnberg. In his second season at the club, Xhaka started 29 times and made 5 substitute appearances as Gladbach finished in sixth place in the Bundesliga.
In 2014–15, Xhaka started all 34 Bundesliga matches for Borussia and was named in the league’s team of the season. Borussia finished in third place to qualify for the 2015–16 UEFA Champions League. One of the jewels of Swiss football since his teenage years, Xhaka’s idol was Zinedine Zidane.
Xhaka’s style of play catches the eye as he combines his physical frame and the intelligence of his passing quite perfectly. He has an average of 85% passing success rate for his team, which is quite remarkable. His long passes are a delight to watch. His ability to lead the team and control the total game is what Wenger must have sought out for when he went for this man. His all-action approach is what Arsenal mainly lack in the centre of the park. The team lacks a true leader who can prove to be effective in dictating the play.
The club has already lost 3 midfielders as Tomas Rosicky, Mathieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta bid farewell at the end of this season. It was obvious that there was a need in depth. Xhaka would likely slot into central midfield and could perhaps be the first-team replacement to Francis Coquelin, or even Mohamed Elneny, who only joined the club in January. He is a leader, a player who is responsible and self-confident and this is why he would fit in perfectly for the Gunners.
Initially seen as a creative playmaker, Granit Xhaka has quickly turned into a deep-lying midfielder and worked hard to become one of those rare players who can win the ball back and recycle it in a very educated way. Although not particularly gifted technically, he has a powerful left-foot, which he uses to shoot from distance and find his teammates around the pitch, switching the play very quickly.
Very strong in the tackle – sometimes too strong, as discipline has been an issue so far – Granit Xhaka has a clear never-say-die attitude and is a fighter – one of those players fellow teammates look up at when things turn sour.
Granit Xhaka had an excellent Euro, claiming the Man of the Match award in all the group matches but his penalty miss in the shootout proved to be decisive as the Swiss went out of the Euros in the Round of 16 after losing to Poland. But, we hope that he will stay strong to recover from that. He was undoubtedly the best player for the Swiss in the tournament.
Manager Arsene Wenger now looks to reinforce his squad with signings in the final third of the pitch. A striker who can score 20-25 goals per season is what Arsenal exactly need to find from the transfer market. Arsenal have been linked with Alvaro Morata, who returned to Madrid after a terrific spell at Juventus. But it seems Real will look to sell the striker if an audacious bid come by.
Hopefully, this dynamic box-to-box midfielder will have a wonderful and influencing season with the Gunners ahead. Welcome to Arsenal, Granit Xhaka.