Revitalised Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has sent the club’s supporters a message of thanks, with Fabrizio Romano revealing the two clubs who came close to luring the star away from Emirates Stadium.
The midfielder has often proven a controversial figure during his six seasons with the Gunners. Signing from Borussia Monchengladbach in summer 2016 in a £35m deal, he has endured a bit of a love-hate relationship with fans. Indeed, that came to a peak in October 2019 when, having been named captain, was jeered by supporters following his substitution against Crystal Palace.
He reacted angrily to the jeers, firing some profanities in thier direction. The incident ultimately saw him losing the captaincy to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
However, the appointment of Mikel Arteta has produced a major renaissance for Xhaka. Becoming a regular in midfield, he has managed to find his best form for the Gunners and become a key part of the side. Xhakah also illustrated his leadership skills in the recent Amazon documentary All of Nothing: Arsenal.
That said, it may have been a different story had Jose Mourinho got his way.
The Swiss star was heavily hunted by Roma during the January transfer window with a huge offer giving Arsenal a headache. At the time, it was reported the club were close to accepting the bid.
Ultimately, Arteta and Edu rejected the deal as Arsenal decided Xhaka was too important to let leave.
The decision now looks inspired with Xhaka playing the best football of his career with Arsenal proudly sitting top of the Premier League table.
He has one goal and three assists from seven appearances this season. And Xhaka was at his commanding best as the Gunners eased past Brentford 3-0 on Sunday to win their sixth Premier League game from seven outings the season.
Jose Mourinho a massive fan of Granit Xhaka, says Fabrizio Romano
Looking back to those Roma transfer rumours, Romano has now detailed exactly how keen they were to sign him.
And the trusted reporter, speaking to Caught Offside, has provided the lowdown on that bid.
“There was absolutely nothing between Xhaka and Roma or Bayer Leverkusen this summer despite rumours,” Romano explained.
“He’s always been key for Arsenal project and his departure was never close this year.
“It was really close one year ago with Roma pushing as Mourinho is a big fan. But nothing happened this summer.”
Xhaka’s relatinship with the club and its fans is so good now that they actually have a chant for him. That was sung once again in the win at the Brentford Community Stadium.
And revealing his pride at hearing the chant, Xhaka has sent Arsenal fans a video message on Twitter.
Xhaka said: “Hey guys, Granit here. Great win, great result, thanks for your support.
“You’ve been amazing but as well for myself to hear what happened today, to say my name, to sing the song for me. It’s a very, very special day and thank you again, see you soon. All the best guys.”
Star in the form of his career
While it might be asking too much of Arsenal to win the title, stranger things have happened over the years. Indeed, they are playing with such confidence and joy at the moment that is hard to see anyone knocking them off their perch.
Of course, bigger tests are to come and the Gunners have lost the one big task that has come their way so far at Old Trafford.
But fancing Brentford is no easy task and they easily saw off the Bees with Xhaka again a key figure.
He is now in the form of his career at Arsenal and pretty much looks undroppable from their midfield. Not just a great leader, but also pulling the strings in the heart of midfield. It’s been a long-time coming, but that £35m invested makes Xhaka now look like a shrewd signing.
Xhaka himself spoke to Sky Sports after the win to explain the confidence oozing through the side.
He said: “You see the different mentality we have this season.
“We had a great chance after one minute with [Gabriel] Martinelli, if we score then we start well. We kept going, working each other and we are training like we play and we have class as well with individual players that can make a difference. Today you saw that.”