We’ve been asking the fans who they think have been the best signings of the summer. This is your list and this, is your number 5.
Although the Gunners left most of their transfer business to the last minute, they did tie up one signing early, and it was a very good one. 23-year-old Granit Xhaka signed for just over £30million and in the process became Arsenal’s 3rd (now 4th) most expensive signing of all time.
Arsenal have lacked a physical presence in midfield for some time and the Swiss international helps solve that problem. Although he has had discipline problems in the past, Xhaka is a tough tackling midfielder that also, so far at least, appears to have the maturity and know how to position himself perfectly at the base of midfield, thus making him a great presence physically and alleviating the defensive duties off of Arsenal’s more creative players, allowing them to do what they do best.
But Xhaka is not just limited to defending. His main rival for a place in the holding role is probably Francis Coquelin, and although Francis is a useful squad player, he is very limited technically. Xhaka, on the other hand boasts a polished technical skill set which makes him composed on the ball, confident in his short and long range passing and not afraid to go for goal too. Let’s look at his performance against Watford as an example: Xhaka made a huge 71 passes (86% success rate), and attempted 9 long balls, being accurate with 6 of them. He was also accurate with one through ball, making a key pass in the process. He also won 5 tackles, 2 aerial duels, made 4 clearances and 2 interceptions.
Although £30million may have looked a lot at the start of the summer, for a player of his age and one that combines qualities in such a unique way, I feel he will be a brilliant addition to the Arsenal squad. He’s already caused fan favourite and Arsenal boy Jack Wilshere to be knocked out of the club and in my opinion, by the end of the season he will be one of the first names on the team sheet.
Xhaka has a natural leadership about him, he was the captain at former club Borussia Monchengladbach and that is some achievement considering his age. Monchengladbach are no lowly club either, they have competed in European football consistently during Xhaka’s time at the club, so despite his age, he has the experience needed to play for a club of Arsenal’s size.
Calling him the heir to Patrick Vieira may be a bit excessive, they aren’t the same player but Xhaka certainly has the natural leadership and strength that Patrick had and with age and more confidence that will only grow more. Arsene has preferred to liken Granit to Emmanuel Petit, you can see the comparisons in terms of playing style more closely with Granit and Emmanuel. Perhaps the Swiss international is a nice blend of both Vieira’s mental and physical attributes and Petit’s style of play. If Xhaka can perform nearly as well as either of those Arsenal legends, then the Gunners can be sure of a positive return on investment on him.