Granit Xhaka’s antics during his substitution have not been short of publicity as well as controversy. The Swiss international’s dramatic departure from the pitch made headlines globally. Fans blamed Xhaka, the fans blamed other fans, others blamed Emery. No doubt, the issue has divided an already divided Arsenal fan base. But as expected, he has officially been stripped of the captain’s armband.
The 27 year old has been subject of criticism and abuse on social media since his ‘disrespectful’ substitution. We covered it in more detail HERE. But along side the abuse, there has been support for him from some Gunners who believe fans have treated him unfairly. People argue the former Bundesliga midfielder has been scapegoated when other players have performed worse than him. Others think he shouldn’t play for the club again. The latter currently looks unlikely as he has been selected for the squad travelling to Vitoria.
Regardless, the armband has been taken away from Xhaka now and given to Aubameyang. This is no surprise, from a tactical as well as commercial standpoint for the North London club. But considering he was selected by the players themselves according to Emery, will this cause even more tension in an already under pressure dressing room?
Can Granit Xhaka win back the fans?
Only time will tell, but will Xhaka EVER be accepted back by the Emirates faithful? This isn’t like Eboue, Iwobi or Walcott who despite receiving stick, kept their head down and worked their way back into the good books of the fans. The midfielder’s sequence of actions (chucking the armband, cupping his ear, trudging off the pitch, swearing) won’t therefore be treated as a one off.
He would have to put in impressive performances week in week out for the side. This is made even more difficult for a player playing in a role where he perhaps doesn’t get the credit he deserves when he does play well. I sympathise with him there. So winning back the hearts of the fans will be tricky.
It really doesn’t help how his ‘apology’ came across more as a justification than accepting his mistake. In fact, he didn’t even acknowledge it as a mistake! Moreover, it wasn’t even instant to show awareness of how he made fans feel. Agreed the abuse at his family is horrendous and shouldn’t be condoned in the slightest. But Xhaka isn’t completely innocent in this instance.
Granit Xhaka’s future
So will he be at the club beyond the summer? Beyond January even? The £35 million signing from Gladbach in 2016 could be tempted to leave. Not just for play time and the fans, but for his and his family’s well being. As I mentioned earlier, the abuse he has received is uncompletely unacceptable. They’re footballers, but they’re also human. Vicious attacks on your loved ones would wind anyone up the wrong way. A change of scenery and environment for his young family could be the right move for all parties involved. Who knows what the future holds for Granit Xhaka…
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