Arsenal have completed the signing of Granit Xhaka from Borussia Mönchengladbach and we have all the details on the Gunners’ new midfield maestro.
The details of the deal are not yet known, but it is believed that the Swiss international has penned a long-term contract after the two clubs agreed an undisclosed fee, estimated to be in the region of £30 million.
After Arsenal fluffed their chance to win the Premier League title this season, reinforcements are required, and the man called ‘Little Einstein’ has the pedigree to be a success in England…
Place of birth: Basel, Switzerland
Born in Switzerland to Kosovo-Albanian parents, Xhaka began his career in the FC Basel youth system and was fast-tracked into the Swiss national team, making his international debut at the age of 18.
Dubbed a ‘young Schweinsteiger’ by then-Switzerland boss Ottmar Hitzfeld, Xhaka made his breakthrough with Basel in the 2010/11 season and won on two Swiss Super League titles and a Swiss Cup crown before agreeing a deal to join Borussia Mönchengladbach in May 2012 for a fee estimated to be in the region of €8.5 million.
The defensive midfielder went on to make more than 100 appearances for Gladbach, and often took over the captain’s armband when Martin Stranzl was absent.
Style of play
Xhaka is calm and composed when in possession, with the nickname of ‘Little Einstein’ a result of his passion for science which is reflect in his intelligence on the park.
The 23-year-old is a complete player who is able to play in a defensive role as well as in a more advanced position. Xhaka is equally adept at sitting back, controlling play and breaking up opposition threats as he is at busting forward in a box-to-box role.
He is a combative player (he picked up the most red cards in the Bundesliga, three), and at 6ft 1in he has the physical presence to back that up. Xhaka also committed the second most fouls per game (2.6) in the league this season, and has admitted that he at times needs to keep a cooler head.
His ability to win the ball and distribute it well when he does (he had an 85 per cent pass completion percentage this season) make him a strong force in the midfield. This, combined with his intelligent play, should see him slot in well into the Arsenal midfield
Xhaka may be just 23, but he’s already made more than 150 appearances at club level in Europe and won 41 caps for Switzerland. With this in mind, it’s likely that he’ll only get better, and his leadership qualities only add to a complete package.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) May 25, 2016
Any player who concedes he gets easily antagonized by opponents needs to calm down a bit, and it’s likely his temperament will be tested early on in the Premier League.
He doesn’t score many goals. Not necessarily a weakness if that’s not his role though. When he does score they tend to be from the top drawer…
Where will he fit in?
It would seem that Xhaka will mostly likely replace Francis Coquelin as Arsenal’s holding midfielder, slotting in alongside Santi Cazorla. The Swiss has already joked about taking not only Coquelin’s position, but also his number 34 jersey.
He joked to Monchengladbach’s club magazine: “It was also like that at Gladbach, with Amin Younes. And at Arsenal Coquelin has it,” adding: “Yes, I’ve spoken with him, he would like to take another number (laughs).”
With Mohamed Elneny in line to represent Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations in January next year, Xhaka’s arrival gives Arsene Wenger plenty of options.