Granit Xhaka opens up on emotional decision to leave Arsenal

Granit Xhaka has admitted he left Arsenal this summer in search of a new challenge.

The Swiss midfielder had been with the Gunners for seven years before taking his talents to Bayer Leverkusen, enduring some incredible lows and some outstanding highs at the Emirates and ending up as one of Mikel Arteta’s most influential players.

Looking back on his time at Arsenal, Xhaka had nothing but positive memories and admitted he struggled to come to terms with his desire to leave.

“I spent seven magnificent years at Arsenal, I didn’t want to play against them,” he told Marca. “It wasn’t easy for me to leave or for the club to let me go.

“I felt love and respect from Edu and Arteta, but I wanted to face a new challenge at Bayer Leverkusen.”


Xhaka went on to reveal Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso played a huge part in his decision to move to Germany and admitted he sees similarity between his new boss and his old one.

“They have a very similar philosophy,” Xhaka said of Alonso and Arteta. “Mikel is incredible, not only as a coach, and I think Xabi is on the same line.

“They both see football very differently other coaches I’ve had.”

Arsenal spent big to bolster their midfield this summer, splashing out £105m on Declan Rice from West Ham after recruiting Kai Havertz in a £65m deal from Chelsea.

It’s the latter who has taken up the ‘Xhaka role’ in pre-season and Havertz recently admitted he has enjoyed turning out as a midfielder again.


On this week’s edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Toby Cudworth is joined by Graeme Bailey to discuss the next steps in Bayern Munich’s Harry Kane hunt, Brighton rejecting another Chelsea bid for Moises Caicedo, who has had the most impressive transfer window so far & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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