Arsenal defensive midfielder, Granit Xhaka said he had to pack his bags to leave the club after he and some section of the club’s fans clashed in 2019.
Before the clash, Granit Xhaka was the captain of Arsenal and everything seemed to be going on well until Crystal Palace visited the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal in 2019.
During the game, Crystal Palace drew 2-2 with Arsenal and most of the club’s fans at the stadium believed that Xhaka did not do enough which was why Arsenal drew the game. Hence, when the then coach of the club, Unai Emery substituted Xhaka, a section of the club’s fans at the stadium began to boo him.
The 29-year-old Switzerland international got so angry about the fans’ reaction that he had to make an insulting gesture to the fans which infuriated them the more. Granit Xhaka went as far as removing his jersey before walking off the pitch to show how angry he was.
After the clash, the Switzerland international lost his title as the captain of the club and decided to leave the club. He attracted interest from a couple of clubs who were ready to steal him off the Emirates Stadium.
“My bags were packed. The passports were out,” Xhaka told The Players’ Tribune. “I was done with Arsenal. Finished. There was a contract on the table from another club, and all I had to do was a sign.”
However, when coach Mikel Arteta replaced coach Unai Emery that same year, the Spanish coach convinced him to stay which he did.
On the 2019 clash with Arsenal’s fans, Granit Xhaka said: “I had barely begun to move when I heard the boos. And it was not just a few guys in the corner – it was a lot of people. I was shocked. I had never experienced anything like this. When I got close to the tunnel, I looked up at the fans sitting there – and this is the part that I will always remember.
“When I close my eyes now, I can still see their faces. I can see their anger. It’s not that they don’t like me. No, it’s different. This is hate. Pure hate. I am really not exaggerating this.
“To feel that level of hatred and disrespect, I wouldn’t want it for my worst enemy. Still to this day, if we have lost, I hate walking those last meters to the tunnel, because I still recognize the faces. The same people are sitting there.
“So now, I just keep my head down. I lived through that nightmare once. I don’t ever want to do it again.”
Granit Xhaka is happy to stay at Arsenal after a turbulent 2019
In 2019, most football enthusiasts thought Granit Xhaka would leave Arsenal. But coach Mikel Arteta was able to convince him to stay and has been one of the most important parts of Arteta’s current Arsenal set-up.
Though he is still being criticized by some Arsenal fans, he has been able to iron out his relationship with the management of the club to the extent he signed a new deal with the club on August 23, 2021.
According to reports, the contract of the 29-year-old Swiss defender at Arsenal earns him £100,000 per week, £5,200,000 per year. Granit Xhaka’s net worth has now risen to a whopping £36,140,000. His contract with Arsenal will expire on June 30, 2024.
So far this season, Xhaka whose transfer market value is 20 million has played 22 games in all competitions in which he provided 2 assists.
Ahead of Arsenal’s Premier League game against Southampton on Saturday, April 16, Xhaka said his relationship with Arsenal’s fans might never be the same but hope to get more of the fans’ respect.
“Today I know I made the right decision, absolutely, because I’m still here,” Xhaka said. “But I can’t pretend that my relationship with the fans will ever be the same, because that moment will always be in my heart.
“I understand that we will never be best friends, but I hope we can treat each other with honesty and respect. I want you to know that whatever I do on the pitch, it comes from the right place.
“I would like us to have a better relationship. I would like us to understand each other better. That is exactly why I’m telling you all this. I know we players are privileged, but you have to understand that our lives can be very, very difficult, too.
“Of course, you never get to know about our problems, because we never talk, and we never do anything together. To you we are just players running around for 90 minutes and then, ‘Goodbye!’ But I don’t think this is right.”