Mikel Arteta lauds ‘special’ Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka

Mikel Arteta told Jamie Carragher on Monday Night Football’s special (broadcast on 21/12; 23:07) that Granit Xhaka is a special person, insisting that he has felt compelled to protect him during his time as Arsenal boss.

Xhaka is playing the best football of his Gunners career this season. Arteta has got what the likes of Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery were largely unable to get from the Switzerland international since his Β£30 million move.

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He has been playing in a more advanced role. And he has absolutely thrived, playing a key role in Arsenal’s charge to the top of the Premier League.

Arteta praises ‘special’ Xhaka

Xhaka seems to have done the impossible in winning all of the supporters around after it appeared that their relationship was damaged beyond repair a couple of years ago.

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Obviously, Xhaka deserves enormous credit. But Arteta has also worked wonders with the midfielder.

Arteta has praised Xhaka for his willingness to change heading into this season after it was decided that they needed to alter his position. Meanwhile, he also explained why every Arsenal boss has rarely lost faith in the 30-year-old during his time in North London.

β€œHe came into pre-season fitter than ever, slimmer than ever. And he knew that if we wanted to take the team to a different level, we had to change his role,” he told Monday Night Football.

β€œHe is a special person. He’s very straight, he’s very honest, he’s very loyal. And he’s very passionate about what he does. So when you have somebody like that, you want to protect him and you want to fulfill the talent that he has. He’s made some mistakes and he’s learned from it.

But he’s always faced adversity and difficulty, and he’s never run away from it. And this is what I think all the managers want from our players. You know that you can count on him. And he will fight and he will break down walls for you.”

Midfielder has done brilliantly to turn fortunes around

Xhaka seemed to be on the brink of leaving Arsenal after Euro 2020. Reports from Italy suggested that a move to Roma was incredibly close.

Ultimately, Arsenal would manage to keep him. And that close call is now proving to be an absolute blessing.

He no longer wears the captain’s armband. But you can tell that he remains a major leader in the Arsenal squad. And his presence makes a massive difference to the side.

Clearly, Arteta is in absolutely no doubt over what he brings to the team.

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