Granit Xhaka has explained the role Mikel Arteta played in convincing him to stay at Arsenal.
Xhaka looked set to leave the Gunners in the January transfer window after being stripped of the captaincy by Unai Emery following a row with fans during a Premier League clash against Crystal Palace.
After being subjected to abuse from Arsenal fans in the stands at the Emirates Stadium, Xhaka cupped his ear towards the supporters and appeared to swear at them as he stormed down the tunnel after being substituted.
The Gunners were held 2-2 by Palace that day just over 12 months ago, and were in the midst of a run of inconsistent form which included defeats to Sheffield United and Leicester.
Xhaka was subsequently dropped by Emery and did not play again until after the Spaniard had been sacked as Arsenal boss.
And by the time Arteta took charge in December, it looked as though the Swiss midfielder was on his way out, amid speculation around a potential move to Hertha Berlin.
However, the new manager put an arm around Xhaka’s shoulder and helped convince him to stay – with the midfielder becoming a regular starter once more and even captaining the side again on occasions.
“I didn’t go to training for two days, worrying about what all had happened,” Xhaka told Neue Zurcher Zeitung , cited by the Daily Cannon.
“With my heart I had already left the club. The fact that I am still there today is thanks to coach Mikel Arteta.
“First, he wanted an explanation from me of what I felt, why I had acted like that. I could tell him my motives, let out what was on my mind.”
Xhaka said his outburst at the Emirates was a reaction to abuse from fans that was “not acceptable” – but admitted he would respond differently if the same happened again.
“I was completely surprised by this,” he said. “I am a human being, I have emotions, even I get hurt by things. The disparaging gesture towards the fans that I made back then, I might not make today.
“But there are situations that you just can’t prepare for.
“I am basically a person who can handle criticism well. But what happened there was not acceptable to me. My family has been insulted even though it has nothing to do with the sport.”
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