Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed that he is an admirer of Granit Xhaka and said that he recommended the midfielder to Pep Guardiola while at Manchester City.
Arteta, who finished his playing career in 2016, spent three years as Guardiola’s assistant before taking the reigns at the Emirates following Unai Emery’s dismissal.
It was in 2016 when Xhaka moved to Arsenal from Borussia Monchengladbach, but the Switzerland international has endured a tough season so far having been dropped for a period and stripped of the captaincy for a gesture towards the fans.
However, Arteta has revealed how he recommended Xhaka to the City staff upon moving to the Premier League champions.
“As a player, when I was going from Arsenal to City to start coaching and we were looking in that position, he was one of the players on my list,” the manager said.
“This is how much I liked him. I was happy when Arsenal signed him because I thought he was going to be a terrific player.
“He has done some really good things and now he has got stuck in a very difficult situation that, I think, was growing and growing and growing and one day it exploded.
“But I have been amazed as well by how this relationship is starting to come back a little bit and I think the fans have been very very positive about him, and him as well.
“Obviously it is difficult to change completely the scenario from where he was a magnificent one. But I think we are in the right direction with him.”
Arteta‘s first game in charge of Arsenal will come at Bournemouth on Boxing Day and he is likely to name Xhaka in his starting line-up after speaking to the 27-year-old in recent days.
Asked if he had spoken to Xhaka about the recent incident, Arteta replied: “Yes, and I told him how much I like him and what I expect from him. How important he is for the team.
“I am here to help him, I want to tell him that we are right behind him. Not just myself but the whole club.
“If we can get the people in the right way as well, the fans with him, I think it will be helpful for the team, which is where it matters.”
Xhaka was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy following his behaviour towards the club’s fanbase and was replaced in the role by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The midfielder has since been linked with a move away from North London, with one report suggesting that he has informed his teammates of his plan to leave.
Another claim has said that the Gunners are preparing to offer his services – as well as £40m – to sign Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi.