Welcome back. So Granit Xhaka is officially a Gunner after Arsenal confirmed the midfielder’s signing from Borussia Monchengladbach this morning.
The Swiss international is 23, left-footed and reminds me of a more mobile Xabi Alonso, spaying passes long and short from a deep lying central midfield position as he does, as well as being aggressive and proactive in winning the ball and also getting forward to pose a threat in the final third.
There’s hints of Thomas Vermaelen and Jack Wilshere in him too, and not just because he’s left-footed; the trio share a combative nature and all love to spank an effort goal-wards given half a chance.
As I’ve said before though, as much as I’m excited by Xhaka’s arrival and rate him highly having completed my customary YouTube scouting stint, who partners him in midfield next season remains a mystery at the moment.
Yet with Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla and Mohamed Elneny all candidates (if we ignore Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey as options centrally), I’m actually quite happy with any combination of two from that quartet.
I’d say Xhaxa-Cazorla would be my first-choice on paper, but until they play together there’ll always be doubts about their compatibility. Time will tell I guess. Anyway, here’s what Xhaka had to say about his move to Arsenal:
I am very happy to be here. It’s a dream come true and I’m happy. I remember I was young and the first game I watched was in the Premier League. It’s a big dream for me and now that I’m here I am very, very happy. I like so much (about Arsenal). I like the style of football [in the Premier League]. It’s aggressive and I like the way Arsenal play football. It’s not like other countries but it’s very, very nice here. I like that but Arsenal can also play football and that’s very good. I don’t think it’s the same (the Premier League compared to the Bundesliga). In Germany you can play aggressively but the referee will always blow his whistle, but in England that’s not the case. That’s better for me. I like to play football. I’m an aggressive player and also a leader. I’m only 23 but I captained a good team in Germany.
And on being compared to Bastian Schweinsteiger, as well as his own leadership qualities, he said:
If Ottmar Hitzfeld says that then it’s a big compliment. Ottmar is a big coach and a good gentleman. I don’t know if I’m a young Schweinsteiger, I’m another player. I am Granit Xhaka. When I was younger, even though I had a big brother, my parents would give me the house key every day. It’s in my head that I am a leader and captaining Monchengladbach was very good for me.
So Arsenal get Granit to reinforce their midfield and nominative determinism strikes again.
Now all we need is to wrap up deals for striker Clinical Hernandez and defender Impervious Boateng and we’re set.
See you tomorrow.