Granit Xhaka has opened up about his ‘misunderstanding’ with Arsenal fans, and how manager Mikel Arteta saved his Gunners career.
The Swiss international was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy in October 2019 after cupping his ears to fans who were booing him at the Emirates Stadium and telling them to ‘f**k off’.
Speaking about the incident in an interview with ESPN, Xhaka said it was merely a ‘misunderstanding’ and believes he has rebuilt a connection with the fans.
“Everyone knows the period I had with the fans. A big misunderstanding in my opinion, from them, from me. But I play football because I have a lot of passion,” he said.
“I am here more than six years. I was in Germany for four years, in Switzerland I was two-and-a-half years a professional. So this is more than the other two clubs where I was. I love the club, I love the people around [it]. They treat me every time with a lot of respect, I try to give the respect back.
“I needed to say the reality and the truth. I had good and positive reaction from the people outside, from our fans, but as well from normal people. It was as well the right timing to say something about it, what happened two-and-a-half years ago.
“I feel the connection again between myself and the fans is much better than before. I always wanted to give them the right Granit, not to see me like they were thinking about me.
Xhaka also discussed his relationship with current manager Arteta, admitting that he would not be at the club had it not been for his influence: “Without him [Arteta], I would not be here in this football club anymore.
“He helped me a lot when I was completely down. He took me aside, helped me with small things, step by step, tactically, as a person, mentality, between the team and the club, tried to help me as well with the fans. He is a freak in a positive way.
“Tactically, he knows everything. How he prepares the team before training, before the games, is unbelievable. I had a lot of coaches, but I have to put Mikel as one of the top ones in my career.”