Granit Xhaka is back on the radar of Jose Mourinho at Roma as he appears unsettled at Arsenal following their summer transfer decision, reports in Italy claim.
Mourinho made Xhaka his first target for Roma after being appointed in the Italian capital in May. He wanted to sign the midfielder before Euro 2020, but they couldn’t do the deal in time.
Xhaka went on to impress for Switzerland in the competition, perhaps changing Arsenal’s outlook on the player. Indeed, they held firm to their asking price for the remainder of the summer and tied him down to a new contract.
The decision split opinion and Xhaka’s form ever since will have only heightened questions. Discipline issues have come into focus again, for example.
Now, the 29-year-old is being linked with a transfer away from Arsenal again. It would not be until the summer, due to how depleted the club currently are in midfield, but it could be something being worked on.
According to Corriere Dello Sport (via the Daily Mirror), Roma have reignited their interest in a transfer for Xhaka.
Mourinho has still been chasing midfield reinforcements for his new club. This month, he signed the 29-year-old Sergio Oliviera from Porto. After his impressive debut, the coach said he wanted more players like the experienced star.
Arsenal face fresh decision as Roma return for Granit Xhaka
Reports in Italy claim Jose Mourinho wants AS Roma to reignite their pursuit of Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka.
Xhaka is also of that calibre and Mourinho has not forgotten his admiration of him. Therefore, Corriere Dello Sport claim Roma could try again in the summer.
Their failure to meet Arsenal’s asking price for Xhaka in 2021 prompted the two clubs to become hesitant over dealing with each other. But the bridges seem to have been repaired, since Arsenal allowed Roma to take Ainsley Maitland-Niles on loan this month.
Xhaka open to Roma transfer
Gunners manager Mikel Arteta commented in the aftermath that it was not right for them to keep a player who wanted a move elsewhere so much.
And they may have to face a similar situation with Xhaka, who Corriere Dello Sport believe is unhappy to have stayed in north London and would run to Rome if Mourinho came calling again.
The Basel-born ace is under contract at the Emirates Stadium until 2024. However, in a repeat of events, Arsenal will have to weigh up his future when the summer comes.
Across his Arsenal career so far, which began in 2016, Xhaka has played 233 times. From those appearances, his record reads: 13 goals, 21 assists, 62 yellow cards and four red cards.
Latest red card dissected
The latest of those red cards came in a goalless draw with Liverpool in the first leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final last week.
Xhaka stole the show by receiving a straight red after 25 minutes. As the last man in the defence, he brought down Diogo Jota and referee Michael Oliver subsequently had no doubts.
Analysing the build-up to the incident at half time, though, ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher insisted that Kieran Tierney and Gabriel were also in the wrong.
Speaking on Sky Sports‘ coverage of the match, the pundit analysed the play from after Arsenal came close with a cross into Liverpool’s box.
“Liverpool are quite fortunate where they find themselves. What I find interesting now, is the way the top teams play now,” Carragher said.
“When you’re a defender now – and we see Kieran Tierney in there… his job, even though he’s got four or five players higher up the pitch, is still to go and press.
“And that’s the guy that gets Xhaka sent off. Tierney then follows the ball to Jordan Henderson, because again it’s about ‘We push in and press’.
“And his mate Gabriel, he’s pushed in with Roberto Firmino. This is not a mistake by them, this is what they are told to do. But they haven’t got close enough to affect the play.
“And you’ve now got a race between Xhaka and Jota. Xhaka knows he’s there, he has two or three looks. This pass from Andy Robertson is a perfect pass.
“Jota thinks, ‘I’ve just got to chest it’ and Xhaka does what Xhaka does. He makes an absolutely ridiculous challenge when Jota has got so much to do.”