On the 25th of May 2016, Arsenal brought in Granit Xhaka from Borussia Mönchengladbach in a big money move to finally address their weak central midfield. The Swiss international, who rose to prominence for his tough and rugged style of play in the Bundesliga, was supposed to be the man who added steel and style to a Gunners midfield that has been lacking it since the departure of Patrick Vieira.
Indeed, as you’ll see from the tweets below, his initial arrival prompted a huge amount of excitement online.
— Varun (@AFCKaiser) May 25, 2016
A marvellous beginning to the Summer Transfer Window. I am super delighted and happy . Welcome to Arsenal Xhaka #GunnerGranit
— Swarit Sohaard (@SSohaard) May 25, 2016
#GunnerGrannit. Money well spent
— James Njenga (@njenga166) May 25, 2016
— Matias (@MazzGooner) May 25, 2016
— Adam Hunter Dawkins (@Adz_Dawkins) May 25, 2016
Since then, however, things haven’t worked out quite as well as the fans would’ve hoped.
As with all new signings from abroad, Xhaka’s first year with the club was one of bedding in and adjusting to a tough and fast-paced league.
While at times, the Swiss international seemingly struggled to get around the park, the former Basel man became an instant regular in the squad, starting 32 games in the league for the Gunners. Initially, the fans loved his tough tackling and his ability to shoot from distance as seen by the screamer he scored against Hull in the league. Presently, it looks like both those talents have disappeared, in fact, his tough tackling has turned into more clumsy challenges. Now it’s more a matter of when rather than if he gets a yellow card.
In his second season with the club, Xhaka continued to be a stable presence in the midfield but only in the sense that he was there rather than being any good. At times lauded for his high passing stats which chiefly consisted of being able to pass back, sideways and an occasional diagonal, Xhaka had a poor second season.
In a season which ultimately ended up being Arsene Wenger’s last, the Swiss international wasn’t great and in truth has failed to fill the void in midfield.
Under Unai Emery this year, Xhaka has made three appearances in the league but against Manchester City and Chelsea he was substituted for new signing Lucas Torreira. Quite tellingly in both of those huge games, 19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi was left on the pitch while the 25-year-old was taken off.
It would seem under Emery that Xhaka’s place in the team might be under threat and it would be no surprise to see Guendouzi and Torreira starting for Arsenal in the second-half of the season.
At one time heralded as a great signing, times are beginning to change for Granit Xhaka.