Xhaka reveals he came 'very close' to leaving Arsenal last summer

Granit Xhaka reveals he came ‘very close’ to leaving Arsenal last summer following interest from Jose Mourinho’s Roma… but midfielder insists he stayed because of Mikel Arteta and Edu’s determination to keep him

  • Granit Xhaka has split fanbase since he joined Arsenal in the summer of 2016 
  • Roma boss Jose Mourinho was reportedly desperate to sign him last summer 
  • Xhaka however stayed and signed a new contract through until 2024 in August 
  • He now wants to emulate former team-mate David Luiz and play well into his 30s 

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has claimed he was ‘very close’ to leaving the club last summer, insisting the ‘door was open’ to say goodbye to the Emirates Stadium.

The Switzerland international has split the Gunners fanbase ever since he joined the club from Borussia Moenchengladbach in the summer of 2016, having been stripped of the captaincy in 2019 after an foul-mouthed rant at fans. 

Roma boss Jose Mourinho was reportedly desperate to sign the 29-year-old in last year’s summer transfer window, only for a move to fail to materialise after the club failed to agree a fee.

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has claimed he was ‘very close’ to leaving last summer

The Switzerland midfielder has split the Gunners fanbase ever since he joined the club

Now speaking to ESPN during Arsenal’s pre-season tour of the United States, Xhaka insists Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta and technical director Edu’s wishes for him to remain at the club ensured he stayed put.  

Asked if there was anything in reports last summer of interest in him, the Swiss said: ‘It was something, yes.’

Asked how close he came to leaving the Gunners – for whom he has now made 250 appearances across all competitions – he said: ‘Very close.’

But when quizzed on why he remains an Arsenal played, he added: ‘Because Mikel was the guy with Edu, they didn’t let me go because they wanted to keep me here. 

Roma boss Jose Mourinho was reportedly desperate to sign the 29-year-old last summer

Xhaka says he stayed because of the desire of Mikel Arteta (right) and Edu (left) to keep him 

‘Of course, my first reaction was to stay at the football club, but they opened the door: ‘If something comes, I can leave.’ 

‘I have to be honest as well. I don’t want to say a name now, but the door was open for me to leave the club as well. But in the end, people decided to keep me here.’

Arsenal then demonstrated their desire to keep Xhaka by offering him a new deal until 2024 at the Emirates, which he signed in August last year.

And the Swiss believes he can follow in the footsteps of former Gunners team-mate David Luiz and play for many years yet. 

Xhaka then put pen to paper on a new Arsenal contract last August, tying him down until 2024

‘I am very happy here,’ he added. ‘My family is very happy here. I have a contract for another two years, it is true. 

‘I will be 30 in September but I don’t believe in age. You can be 18, you can be 90, you can be 35. If you have the quality, you can play. 

‘We had a lot of people who were here as well — David Luiz for example — who had an amazing career, 33, 34, 35, he is even playing now.

‘That’s why age is only a number for me. As long as I am fit, as long as I can help the team, I will try to do everything. When the moment comes, I can’t do that, I am the first to say to the club: ”I am not ready to do that.”

He believes he can follow in the footsteps of David Luiz (right) and play for many years yet




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