Granit Xhaka has admitted he was resigned to leaving Arsenal after clashing with his own supporters last year, and the only reason he is still at the club today is down to Mikel Arteta.
The Swiss international was booed off by a section of Gunners fans when being substituted in a Premier League league game against Crystal Palace last October, and was subsequently stripped of the captaincy by Unai Emery.
Xhaka was taken out of the firing line and coincidentally made his return a month later against Frankfurt in the Europa League, which was Emery’s last game in charge before being sacked.
When Arteta arrived in December, he promised to give all players a clean slate, and despite being linked with a January move to Hertha Berlin, Xhaka ended up staying at the club.
The 28-year-old conceded that his ‘heart was already gone’ from Arsenal, but the former Manchester City assistant coach turned his future around.
‘I was completely surprised by this. I am a person, I have emotions, things hurt me too,’ Xhaka said in an interview with Swiss publication NZZ am Sonntag.
‘The disparaging gesture in the direction of the fans that I made back then might not be done today.
‘I didn’t go to training for two days, wondering what happened in the first place. My heart was already gone from the club. The fact that I’m still there today is thanks to coach Mikel Arteta.
‘He first wanted me to explain how I feel and why I had acted this way… I was able to describe my motives to him and let out what was on my mind.’
MORE : Mikel Arteta explains why Willian has struggled at Arsenal since Chelsea move
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