Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has revealed that he told his former boss at Manchester City Pep Guardiola to sign unsettled midfielder Granit Xhaka in 2016.
The Switzerland international had been an outcast at the Emirates following a clash with Arsenal fans and the public breakdown in his relationship with the club. As a result of the breakdown, he was stripped of the captaincy by former manager Unia Emery and was relegated to the bench.
However, Xhaka appears to have been given a fresh start by the new head coach and speculations linking him back to Germany have been quashed by the club.
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday, Arteta said that he has long admired Xhaka and believes he has moved on from his issues.
“When I was going from Arsenal to City to start coaching in 2016 and we were looking in that position, Xhaka was one of the players on my list,” Arteta confessed.
“That is how much I liked him. I was happy when Arsenal signed him because I thought he was going to be a terrific player.
“He has done some really good things and now he has got stuck in a very difficult situation that was growing and growing and growing and one day it exploded. But I have been amazed by how this relationship is starting to come back, and I think the fans have been very, very positive about him, as he has as well.
After joining the club, one of Arteta’s first jobs was to meet with some of his unsettled stars to try and help them all bounce back from a difficult start to the campaign, and he confessed that Xhaka was one of those with whom he spoke.
“I spoke to him and told him how much I like him and what I expect from him. How important he is for the team,” he said.
“I am here to help him, I want him to feel we are right behind him. Not just myself but the whole club. “If we can get the people in the right way as well, the fans with him, it will be helpful for the team.
“I want to give the players confidence, reassurance and guidance. Slowly, hopefully we’ll get to where I want.”
“Obviously it is difficult to change completely the scenario from where he was to a magnificent one. But I think we are in the right direction with him.”