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Football Reporting


Granit Xhaka aims subtle dig at Arsenal as he edges closer to completing Roma transfer

Granit Xhaka has aimed a parting jibe at Arsenal as he moves ever-closer to leaving the club after five years of service.

Xhaka, 28, is on the verge of joining Roma, where he could become the first signing of the Jose Mourinho era at Stadio Olimpico.

The Switzerland international struck personal terms with Roma in May and there was a breakthrough in the Serie A club’s negotiations with Arsenal this week, with a fee of £15.5million agreed.

Xhaka does not seem downcast to be leaving the Emirates, directing a dig at the Gunners over their underwhelming season during which they finished eighth in the Premier League.

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Xhaka was happy with his performances this season - but not those of his teammates
Xhaka was happy with his performances this season – but not those of his teammates

“Football is a team sport and you’re only as good as your team,” said the midfielder as he reflected on the season.

“Of course it was a good year for me personally, I’ve always played and performed, but the place at the end of the season is of course really bitter and disappointing for us.”

Xhaka – speaking ahead of Euro 2020 – added: “There were certainly a number of issues that didn’t go optimally. But there is now no point in looking back.”

Xhaka made 45 appearances for Arsenal this season and was a reliable performer in Mikel Arteta’s side even as many of his teammates struggled.

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But Xhaka’s time with the north London club has been anything but smooth, with the former Borussia Monchengladbach star a polarising figure in the eyes of many fans.

He was stripped of the captaincy in November 2019 by then-manager Unai Emery after clashing with fans who were booing him as he was substituted.

What is Granit Xhaka’s legacy at Arsenal? Have your say in the comments.

Despite the player’s mixed reputation, Arteta is sure to miss Xhaka’s commanding presence in midfield, while his versatility also came to the fore this season.

The Spaniard turned to Xhaka to fill in at left-back following an injury sustained by Kieran Tierney, and, for the most part, the Swiss was up to the challenge.

Although he is on the cusp of completing his transfer to the Italian capital, Xhaka also spoke of his desire to link up with his brother, Taulant, once again.

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The siblings came through the ranks together at Basel and Taulant still plays for the Swiss Super League side, serving as their vice-captain.

“Yeah, it’s amazing how time flies,” said Granit. “I’m almost 29 now. But I still feel young, still fit and hungry, and want to keep playing football at the highest level.

“And it is certainly a dream for Tauli and me to play together again at FC Basel – even if it is only for a minute or a game. But I’d love to win another title with FCB.”

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