Granit Xhaka has opened up on his reasons for quitting Arsenal in the summer and rubbished reports that it was because his wife wanted to quit England.
The Gunners signed the Swiss midfielder from Borussia Monchengladbach back in 2016 but he completed a return to Germany when he sealed a deal to join Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen in early July.
And now, in an interview with Neue Zürcher Zeitung (as relayed by Fussball Transfers) the 31-year-old has spoken about his exit after seven years in north London.
There were strong suggestions that Xhaka quit Arsenal because his wife was unhappy in London.
However, responding to these claims, he said: “It was sometimes written that I was coming back to Germany because of my wife. That’s not the truth. Like me, she was very happy in London.”
The player has also revealed he wanted a move away from the Emirates having spent so long playing with the Gunners, while believing that his experience could help Leverkusen.
He added: “I didn’t come to Leverkusen as a boss… but because I was looking for a new challenge. I felt like my time at Arsenal was over after seven years in London. I came here as an experienced player and person. My teammates see that I can give them something of what I have learned. That’s part of my role here.
Xhaka also spoke about the sporting and personal reasons for leaving, revealing: “I made the decision solely as a footballer and athlete. I came to a top club in Germany that has a plan and wants to achieve something. Of course, the change was easier for us because we used to live in Düsseldorf, and Mönchengladbach is nearby, where my wife grew up.”
Xhaka has so far made eight appearances for Alonso’s side this season, notching one assist in the process.
Havertz signed to fill Xhaka role
As for the Gunners they have largely used Kai Havertz to fill the void left by the Swiss star, although it’s fair to say that the German remains a work in progress at this stage.
Havertz has come in for plenty of criticism after Arteta opted to splash out £65million to sign him from London rivals Chelsea.
His early performances this season left a lot to de desired, although there has been recent signs of an improvement from the 24-year-old.
The Germany international was excellent in the Champions League win over PSV before being left out of the north London derby draw a matter of days after.
However, he was back in the starting line-up for Saturday’s 4-0 drubbing of Bournemouth on the south coast and scored his first goal for the club from the penalty spot.
Arsenal are back in action on Tuesday evening when they head to Lens in the Champions League.