Premier League • England

Patrick Vieira names much-maligned Arsenal star as one of his three favourite Premier League midfielders

Patrick Vieira of Crystal Palace smile during the Premier League match between Southampton and Crystal Palace at St Mary's Stadium

Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira has been asked to name his three favourite midfielders currently in the Premier League – and he had no hesitation selecting an often-criticised Arsenal man among his picks.

Vieira was regarded as one of the elite midfielders in world football during his playing days. His £3.5m move to Arsenal from AC Milan back in August 1996 is viewed as one of the biggest bargains in Arsenal’s history. He played a leading role in their sustained period of success, winning three Premier League titles and four FA Cups.

To this day, his name is still sung from the Arsenal terraces.

Now making his way as a manager, Vieira has enjoyed relative success with New York City FC and Nice before moving to Crystal Palace. Indeed, in his first season at the helm, he guided the Eagles to a very respectable 12th-placed finish.

While a modern-day Premier League midfielder’s role has evolved, there are still some out there who operate in a similar fashion to Vieira.

Now, the France legend has been asked to pick his three favourite stars playing there in the Premier League today.

And he had no hestitation in picking Granit Xhaka as his first choice.

He said: “This is a really difficult one. What I will mention is maybe players that I really like.

“I like Kante I think he is this kind of modern holding midfield player that can really go forward. I think he is this kind of box to box player who can be really dangerous going forward working really hard for the team as well.

“Xhaka at Arsenal, I think he is a team player. I think he is someone you might not even notice a lot or really mention in a match but he is doing really work from Liverpool and also Fabinho from Liverpool.”

Granit Xhaka winning over fans at Arsenal

The Swiss star has come in for plenty of criticism over the years, not least when he reacted to Arsenal fans booing of him.

That ultimately saw him lose the captaincy at Emirates Stadium. However, he has since bounced back from the criticism and was one of their most consistent performers last season.

Xhaka is also not ruling out wearing the armband again in the future.

Furthermore, the recent All or Nothing: Arsenal documentary also showed just how influential a leader Xhaka remains in their dressing room.

And his bond with supporters is now on the up, with supporters chanting his name during last weekend’s win at Bournemouth.

“It’s changed in a good way,” said Xhaka. “I never ever was thinking it would be like this. I never felt how it is at the moment, even when I came to Basel at 16, 17 or 18.

“The most beautiful time is now, with [the fans], but as well with the team and with the club. They are seeing we are doing something in a good way.

“I am feeling good, I am feeling happy, I try to give them something back. Let’s hope that everything goes like this in the future. I don’t want to put something… to be a legend or something. The numbers I have at this football club shows more than words.

“To have more than 250 games for this club is something I feel very proud about. I feel very happy because I have not a lot of people in front of me who achieve these numbers.”