Missing piece in title puzzle? All you need to know about Arsenal's new signing Granit Xhaka
Arsenal finally announced the signing of Swiss midfielder Granit Zhaka on Wednesday, after weeks of speculation suggesting the Borussia Monchengladbach captain had completed a switch to the Emirates stadium
Arsenal finally announced the signing of Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka on Wednesday, after images of the player in the Arsenal kit were leaked on social media few days back. The transfer though is yet to be officially completed, with Xhaka's contract with Arsenal taking effect only from 1 July. But Arsenal have confirmed that they have reached an agreement with the player for a permanent transfer to North London.
A statement on the Arsenal website read: "Arsenal have reached an agreement with Granit Xhaka to join the club on a long-term contract for an undisclosed fee."
Xhaka will become Arsenal's first major signing of the summer, as Arsene Wenger looks to build a squad that will end the Gunners' twelve-year wait for the Premier League trophy. Xhaka's signing is believed to be a major step in that direction.
But the question doing rounds in the minds of Arsenal fans and their rivals alike is - who exactly is Granit Xhaka?
We do our bit to provide answers to those questions and take a closer look at Arsenal's latest recruit and what can he bring to the Premier League
Where does he play?
Granit Xhaka is a central midfielder who plays in a more defensive role, but can also operate in the no. 10 position. Xhaka prefers to sit deep in midfield where he can break-up the opposition's play and initiate attacks. The former Basel man is also known for his lung-busting runs through the central midfield, making him more of a box-to-box midfield player.
What are his strengths and weaknesses?
The Swiss International is a great reader of the game and often finds himself in the right position to intercept the opponent's passes. In addition, he is a world-class distributor of the ball and also a presence in the air, making him virtually the perfect fit for a player playing in a deep midfield role. He is tenacious, and that will be an added quality in the Premier League, especially for Arsenal who have lacked bite in that area for quite some time.
However, his tenacious nature comes at a cost. Xhaka's hard-tackling streak has often landed him in trouble in the past. He was sent off three times while playing for Mönchengladbach in the 2015/16 Bundesliga season. In 108 Bundesliga games he has 29 yellow cards and five red cards. To his own admission, he needs to establish more control over his temper.
Leader through and through
Despite being just 23 years of age, Xhaka earned the captain's armband at Borussia Mönchengladbach and history suggests that was no accident. Xhaka has be true leader throughout his career and led the Swiss to U17 World Cup glory in Nigeria in 2009, before almost guiding them to another winners's medal at the Euro U21 in 2011 where Switzerland finished runners-up. With club captain Mikel Arteta departing and his deputy, Per Mertesacker, not getting any younger, Arsenal will need a strong, settled captain in years to come . Xhaka could just be the player to fill that void.
How experienced is Xhaka?
Xhaka is quite experienced considering he is just 23. After making his international debut at the age of 17, Xhaka already has been capped forty times by Switzerland. The midfielder was an integral part of his nation's excellent run at the 2014 World Cup, and is set to feature again at Euro 2016, before joining Arsenal for the 2016/17 campaign.
The Swiss midfielder has plenty of Champions League experience as well, after playing for FC Basel and Borussia Mönchengladbach in his career so far.
Xhaka was born in the Swiss capital of Basel to Kesovo-Albanian parents, according to a report by Telegraph. His choice to represent Switzerland over Albania - the country where his parents hail from - caused a major controversy back in their homeland. His brother Taulant Xhaka though plays for Albania and the siblings could be set for a clash in the upcoming Euro 2016. It won't be the most pleasant evenings for Granit Xhaka, who was booed by the Albanian crowd, last time the two sides met, back in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
Dream to play in England
Xhaka has always maintained that England is his dream destination to play football. He believes that the English League is highly challenging and being a person, who has always relished challenges, playing in England is something he hoped to achieve since his childhood.
Hailed as the 'Young Schweinsteiger'
This will make Arsenal fans happy. Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfield likened him to Bastian Schweinsteiger. "I am convinced that he has a great career ahead of him. He is a leader, a player who is responsible and self-confident. He is an absolute top player, capable of playing for any top team in the world," Hitzfield once said about the twenty-three-year-old midfielder
Fond of numbers, Xhaka seems to have already staked a claim for the no. 34 jersey, that is currently with Francis Coquelin. Xhaka joked that he has already spoken with the Frenchman about it.
By profile, Xhaka seems to be the missing piece in the puzzle for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal, but it will be interesting to see if he is able to make the step up from the Bundesliga to the Premier League. Wenger will be hoping he does, as Arsenal will once again attempt to step a level up and mount a genuine and sustained Premier League challenge.
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