After several rounds of rumours and leaked pictures, Arsenal FC have officially confirmed the signing of Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach for a reported fee of £30m making him the club’s third most expensive player after Mezut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
Aged 23, Xhaka has played over 100 games for Borussia Monchengladbach and even captained the German club in the absence of regular skipper Martin Stranzl.
Born in Basel, Switzerland to Kosovo Albanian parents, Xhaka represents the Swiss national side and has famously won the U17 World Cup in Nigeria. He also made it to the finals of the U21 European Championship final in 2011. The young starlet will also be on the plane to France to represent Switzerland in Euro 2016.
Boisterous, combative and a young leader-Xhaka is a promising talent. Xhaka idolizes the French legend Zinedine Zidane. Former national team boss Ottmar Hitzfeld christened him as a "young Schweinsteiger" while former Basel coach Thorsten Fink was once quoted saying "Xherdan Shaqiri is the best talent in Switzerland…after Xhaka."
This is what ex-Gunner Djourou said about the Xhaka: “Granit is a great ball player. The guy has a magical left foot. He can ping the ball all over the place. He is a strong tackler - he is very hard going into tackles - and overall he is a very, very, very good player. He can see a pass. He can tackle, he can assist. I would say, if I am being honest, there is a little bit of a Pirlo about him, just in terms of the precision that he plays the ball with. Granit can play those types of ball. He can come and get the ball and ping it 40 yards onto your feet. He is that kind of player, but with more physicality to his game. It is hard to give a perfect description but I would say he has a bit of Pirlo about him.”
The youngster has a physical approach to his game and likes battling it out by holding the fort in central midfield. He has an exciting rhythm to his game and keeps things flowing. He amassed an 85 per cent pass completion percentage in 2015-16 with Monchengladbach. Arsenal are a team that love to knock the ball around so Xhaka is a viable addition in that respect.
The Gunners have forever been “4 world-class signings away” from winning the league, and with Xhaka roped in by May-end things are looking good for the North-London side. With Arteta, Flamini and Rosicky off the payroll, Arsenal are looking for reinforcements in midfield and the young Swiss is the first scalp.
Standing tall at 6ft 1inch, Xhaka comes into the Gunners’ fold with a good stature and a knack for winning the ball. He hasn’t scored too many goals but he is the scorer of some very outstanding goals. Starting places for Coquelin and Elneny will now be in jeopardy with Xhaka’s arrival. With Ramsey, Cazorla and Ozil also among their midfield ranks Arsenal can turn out to be a force to reckon with in the 2016-17 season.
To go with their quality in midfield, Arsenal are still looking for that deadly striker. Ozil’s brilliance was not complemented with incisive finishing because of which Arsenal endured yet another painful season. Yes they finished second in the league, but with the quality they possess they are expected to get their hands on the Premier League trophy which they last won in 2004. Competitors City, United and Chelsea will all be undergoing a transition in managerial expertise next season which should spur Arsenal to finally show their mettle. Arsenal’s horrid show post the turn of the calendar has been a habit for a few years now, and they’d be hoping to improve on it and finally live up to the expectations of their fans.
Arsene Wenger is determined to further add to his squad’s depth and as Mirror Football revealed, Wenger could more than double his current transfer market spending before the window closes at the end of August.
Arsenal scored the least goals among the top 4 teams in the league last season and Juventus striker Alvaro Morata remains a priority for them. However, this deal will be complicated by Real Madrid's buy-back clause, thought to be in the region of €30million (£22.75million).
In order to cover for their inconsistent centre backs- Mertesacker and Gabriel-Arsenal are also digging deep for a cover in the same position. A solid, commanding and imporous centre back pairing is a must for any side going for glory. While Arsenal have pace in Gabriel and Koscielny and physical presence in Mertesacker, they haven’t found a trustworthy pairing amongst any of them. According to the grapevine Napoli's Senegal international Kalidou Koulibaly is on Wenger’s radar.
Speculation and reality haven’t gotten along well as far as the red and white army is concerned. Much to the dismay of the Arsenal fans, transfer tittle-tattle has not always turned into actual signings. Arsenal were heavily linked with Gonzalo Higuain 3 years ago but he ended up at Napoli. At the close of the season “Kante to Arsenal” alerts were on the rise but with Xhaka in the bag, it seems unlikely that the Frenchman will move to London.
The transfer window has not been Wenger’s favourite hunting ground as he hasn’t been particularly active in it compared to the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and even Liverpool for that matter.
Arsenal rooters will be hoping for more good news in the coming days as Arsenal evidently need to add more firepower to their squad having come close but not close enough to emerge as the league champions.
With the early signing of Xhaka, Wenger has shown signs of real intent and it’ll be interesting to see if he adds to his kitty by further loosening his pockets. Can these potential signings make up for Arsenal’s fundamental weaknesses? We shall wait and watch.