Xhaka: ‘Pure hate’ and ‘disrespect’ almost forced Arsenal exit

Date published: Wednesday 13th April 2022 3:12 - Jason Soutar

Granit Xhaka angrily takes his shirt off

Granit Xhaka has revealed that he was almost “finished” at Arsenal after experiencing “pure hate” and “disrespect” from the club’s supporters.

The 29-year-old has divided opinion at Arsenal since joining from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016.

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During a match against Crystal Palace in October 2019, Xhaka was booed off the pitch by supporters. As a result, he ripped his shirt off and stormed down the tunnel.

The Swiss midfielder was stripped of the captaincy by then-manager Unai Emery following the incident.

He told The Players’ Tribune: “I was done with Arsenal. Finished. There was a contract on the table from another club, and all I had to do was sign.”

Reflecting on the incident, he said: “When I close my eyes now, I can still see their faces. I can see their anger. It’s not that they don’t like me. No, it’s different.

“This is hate. Pure hate. I am really not exaggerating this.”

Xhaka was convinced by Mikel Arteta to stay at the club after the Spaniard replaced his compatriot, Emery, two months after the match against Crystal Palace.

This is despite the Swiss’ family attempting to persuade him to leave the north London club.

“Mikel and I didn’t speak about my future again, because after six months I was happy,” Xhaka added. “Today I know I made the right decision, absolutely, because I’m still here.

“But I can’t pretend that my relationship with the fans will ever be the same, because that moment will always be in my heart.

“It’s like broken glass, you know? You can piece it together, but the cracks will always be there.”

Meanwhile, former Arsenal striker Kevin Campbell has told the Gunners to buy Youri Tielemans from Leicester over his team-mate James Maddison.

Campbell told Football Insider: “I think Youri Tielemans is the one they will be looking at.

“I could be wrong on that but I think the ship has sailed with Maddison. We have Odegaard now so spending another £50 million on an attacking midfielder, I just don’t see it.

“Tielemans is a player Arsenal need. He has a different game to Maddison.”

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