One of Granit Xhaka’s close friends says the midfielder “regretted his actions straight away” after telling the Arsenal crowd that booed him to “f**k off”.
The 27-year-old waved his arms, cupped his ears and told supporters to “f**k off” as they jeered him following his substitution during Sunday’s 2-2 draw at home to Crystal Palace.
Patrik Dibrani, who currently plays for Swiss third-tier side SC Zofingen, came through the youth ranks with Xhaka at Basel and spoke to the Arsenal midfielder after the incident.
“It hurts me a great deal. Granit is like a brother to me,” Dibrani told Swiss publication Blick. “I understand that he did not react well to the booing but if you are a true fan of your club it is like a love affair.
“You have to be there for each other in the bad times as well as the good. There should be no place for booing your own players. I spoke on the phone to Granit after the game.
“He’s not in a good place – he is grief-stricken. He regretted his actions straight away. He is an emotional person.”
And Dibrani thinks the boos head inside the stadium were made by “tourists” and “not genuine supporters”.
“The fans and the English media are quick to bury him. He is at an age when he can make mistakes, and only human” Dibrani added. “I think the fans who slaughter him are tourists. They are not genuine supporters.
“Granit does everything for his football. He had a personal trainer, and missed out on partying.
“Then he gets abused in the stadium and on social media. The comments are below the belt.
“At Basel he was an undisputed first-teamer aged 18, and he was Borussia Monchengladbach’s youngest ever captain. Now he gets slaughtered without mercy. It is not fair.
“Swiss people have to be proud that one of us is captain of one of the world’s biggest clubs but the blame for Arsenal’s entire situation is being placed on Granit’s shoulders.
“I am a Manchester United fan, and both they and Arsenal have been off the top of English football for five or six years.
“Both clubs are simply not as good as Liverpool or Manchester City.”