Granit Xhaka opens up on Mikel Arteta disagreement and addresses Arsenal exit decision

Granit Xhaka claims he “wanted to face a new challenge” after leaving Arsenal for Bayer Leverkusen in a £21million transfer.

The Switzerland international, 30, completed his move to Xabi Alonso’s side earlier this month after seven years at the Emirates. Many Arsenal fans were disappointed to see him leave the club, as he missed just one Premier League game last season.

Xhaka has previously quashed the idea that his transfer was down to his wife being unhappy in England. He’s looking forward playing in a No.6 role in Germany having played as a No.8 at Arsenal. It’s unlikely Mikel Arteta would’ve deployed him as a No.6.

The midfielder made more than 200 Premier League appearances for the Gunners and won four trophies, including two FA Cups. He’ll be hoping to win more silverware with Leverkusen after they finished a promising sixth in the Bundesliga last season.

Xhaka explained his decision to leave Arsenal in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca. He’s previously played in Germany for Borussia Monchengladbach, where he featured in 139 games before former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger snapped him up.

He said: “I spent seven magnificent years at Arsenal, I didn’t want to play against them. It wasn’t easy for me to leave or for the club to let me go. I felt love and respect from Edu and Arteta, but I wanted to face a new challenge at Bayer Leverkusen.”

Xhaka will play as a No.6 at Leverkusen as their “head of operations”. He added: “It won’t be easy, but we can achieve great things… the goal is get into the Champions League and, although I’m not a dreamer, I have the feeling that we can win something”.

Xhaka also admitted the Alonso “played a very important role” in persuading him to join Leverkusen and has compared him to Arteta. He continued: “They have a very similar philosophy. Mikel is incredible, not only as a coach, and I think Xabi is on the same line.”

 

Arteta paid tribute to Xhaka after his move to Leverkusen was announced. He said: “We are saying goodbye to a fantastic player and person loved by all of us. It has been an incredible journey together for him and he has given absolutely everything for this club.

“The influence Granit has had on his team mates on the pitch and colleagues at the club, will tell you just how popular he is. We cannot thank Granit enough for his service and contribution to this club over the years. We wish Granit and his family all the best in the next step of their lives.”

Arsenal’s sporting director Edu added: “Granit has been a big part of our club for a long time. He has given us great commitment and quality over the years, playing such an important role in our progression and success. He leaves us with our huge respect and thanks. We wish Granit all the best for the future.”