Xhaka may save Gunners boss Arteta millions

Midfielder turning his Arsenal career around with 25-yard stunner against Man United

Thursday, 28th April — By Steve Barnett

Granit Xhaka

ARSENAL could have even more cash to splash on solving their striker crisis this summer with Mikel Arteta hinting that he might not be rushing to reinforce the centre of his midfield after all.

With the Gunners expected to repeat the £150million shopping spree they enjoyed last year, it was thought that the likes of Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong or Aston Villa’s Douglas Luiz were being targeted to play alongside Thomas Partey.

But now those ringfenced funds could be spent elsewhere after Arteta heaped yet more praise on Granit Xhaka – the man many were tipping to be shown the exit door at the Emirates.

In something of a bizarre twist, Arteta thanked Gooners for embracing the Swiss international after he scored a belter in the 3-1 victory over Manchester United on Saturday.

The scenes Xhaka’s 25-yard stunner sparked were a far cry from when he was booed off as he clashed with his own supporters during a Premier League match against Crystal Palace in 2019.

Back then Xhaka (pictured) reportedly swore at Arsenal fans as he stormed off, cupping his ear in reaction to the crescendo of boos and jeers that greeted his departure. Recalling the incident recently the 29-year-old admitted that he was “done with Arsenal”, adding: “My bags were packed. The passports were out.”

In truth there are still plenty of fans who are frustrated by Xhaka’s careless and all-too-regular costly fouls, especially when followed by a needless red card.

Arteta, however, is hoping that the screamer he scored on Saturday – which capped a man-of-the-match display – might just be a game-changer.

“I was dreaming of that because he deserves it,” said the Arsenal boss. “If every fan, or individual spent five, 10 minutes with Granit – or even two minutes is enough – they will understand the person that he is, the professional that he is and how much he cares about the club.

“But the history was there, and now as well I think he made a risky move when he opened up completely and he expressed his feelings [regarding the fallout of the Crystal Palace game].

“But as well, he has done that because now he is prepared. He is feeling that the environment is going to protect him, he feels loved at the club and the response I think was great.

“So thank you to everyone, to the fans to show that dedication to him, because I know how much that means to him.”

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