Mikel Arteta has revealed how he persuaded Granit Xhaka to complete a U-turn and commit his future to Arsenal.
The midfielder’s long-term future in north London appeared over after he told supporters to ‘f*** off’ as they jeered him from the field against Crystal Palace in October.
That sorry episode saw Xhaka stripped of the captaincy and plans made for his imminent departure. Yet, less than three months on, Xhaka is back in the fold as the two sides prepare to meet again on Saturday.
‘The first message for him was that I wanted to understand how he was feeling, why he was feeling that way,’ Arteta said.
‘I wanted him to hear from me my opinion on him, and that I was ready to support him and that I was ready to push the club to be supportive of him too, because I thought he could be a really, really good player for us and he could enjoy this football club playing under me. I tried to convince him that way. He thought about it, he had a very positive response afterwards, and I think he changed his mind.’
With Xhaka’s situation seemingly resolved, Arteta is ‘not expecting big things’ in this month’s transfer window. The future of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is less certain, however.
The forward, out of contract in 2021, has yet to sign a new deal but on Monday Aubameyang said: ‘I love this club. I am committed to it.’ ‘I was very pleased to read those comments,’ Arteta said.
‘He knows exactly what I think about him and obviously he’s a massive player for us. But at the moment we’re in the middle of the season and we haven’t discussed anything further on that at the club.’
On whether he is confident the forward will stay, however, Arteta added: ‘I don’t know, we haven’t discussed that. But I’m confident that he’s very happy here.’