Premier League • England

‘Nobody can stop me’ – Xhaka makes his Arsenal plans clear after addressing external factors

Granit Xhaka Arsenal

Granit Xhaka insists his Arsenal future is in his own hands and is refusing to let online abuse play a part in his decision-making process.

Xhaka has once again been facing an uncertain Arsenal future in recent weeks. He is one of their longest-serving players, but there have been various bumps along the road. On two separate occasions, he has been close to leaving.

The first was when he was stripped of the club captaincy in November 2019. He later recovered his role on the pitch, well in time to become a top target for Jose Mourinho’s Roma last summer.

No deal could be done, but the idea of Roma signing Xhaka this year remains. For now, he must continue to focus on his duties with Arsenal, who secured him to a new contract last year.

But Xhaka remains a divisive figure for the fanbase, especially because of his disciplinary record. Some criticism of the Switzerland international has certainly crossed the line. Indeed, he has been targeted by abuse – as have his family, on occasion – via social media.

But the midfielder is refusing to let that affect his judgement of his Arsenal situation.

He told an event put on by the Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (as quoted by the Evening Standard): “I say always [to] myself, ‘The only one who can stop me is myself’.

“Of course, injuries and things like that stop you as well. But nobody can stop me, not the people outside.

Guendouzi will leave Arsenal this summer following successful Marseille loan

Guendouzi will leave Arsenal this summer following successful Marseille loan

Arsenal will sell Guendouzi this summer after a successful loan at Marseille

“This is why in my head I am so strong. I say that always [to] myself as well, ‘I decide when I leave, nobody else; not the fans, not the people’.

“When I am not ready, I will leave. As long as I am ready and I feel good, and I feel I can help the team, I will be here. But because of the people? Because of a bad message? Because of the bad stuff they are doing, speaking and writing? No chance.

“The one thing is if you see the people face to face, they will never tell you something bad. This is what makes me upset.

“I have been in this ‘business’ since I was 17 – nearly 13 years. But I have a feeling that the abuse at the moment looks like it’s normal.

“For me, it doesn’t help anybody and I think this is something we can improve on, a lot.”

Xhaka embracing Arsenal atmosphere

Granit Xhaka Arsenal

Xhaka does have some fond memories with Arsenal fans, including from recent fixtures. Their recent wins over Wolves were both thrilling for different reasons, sparking big celebrations.

The most recent meeting between the two was a 2-1 win. Arsenal scored in the 82nd and 95th minutes to come from behind.

Xhaka felt the atmosphere in the closing stages of that match was among his most memorable experiences with Arsenal.

He said: “After six years of now being here, against Spurs [the atmosphere] is always amazing. But I think against Wolverhampton, after 70 minutes, it was in the top three since I have been here.

“The atmosphere was unbelievable and pushed us until the last moment. People forget sometimes that the fans are so important for us as well.”

Xhaka has made 236 appearances for Arsenal during his time with the club, which began in 2016.

READ MORE‘Something clicked’ – Arteta spots signs of resurgence from Arsenal star