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Football’s Rising Stars – Granit Xhaka

 

Granit Xhaka has signed for Arsenal this summer and has become the first acquisition for the Gunners in the ongoing transfer window. For the 23-year-old midfielder the north London club have paid €45 million, according to reports.

It is a steep price for a youngster, but then the rapid progress that the Swiss international of Albanian origin has made thus far, has seen him being eyed by some of the biggest clubs in Europe. However, the persuasive powers of Arsene Wenger worked their charm on Xhaka and he has opted to don the Gunners’ colours for the upcoming season.

Arsenal have acquired a talented midfielder who is not afraid to go aggressively into tackles. The Gunners’ have long been questioned for the lack of aggression, and with the purchase of Xhaka that is one aspect that would surely have been addressed.

Xhaka, at just 22, donned the captain’s armband for Borussia Monchengladbach last season, and played a central part in their campaign as the club secured qualification to the Champions League next season. Arsenal will surely not be lacking in a player, who isn’t afraid to put his hands up and be counted when the going gets tough.

Playing style

Xhaka is a central midfielder, who is confident in taking various roles in midfield. Primarily, he is a holding midfielder, who is great at breaking dangerous moves of the opposition. However, as most positions at the highest level now demand, Xhaka is extremely adept at taking attacking roles. He likes to move forward and initiate attacks and possesses a strong shot from distance which has seen him score six goals for the national team.

Video courtesy: ArsenalVideosHD

Arsenal have struggled for the lack of a quality defensive midfielder ever since Patrick Vieira left the club in 2005. And the Gunners faithful will now hope that they finally have an able player in the legendary Frenchman’s role.

Future at Arsenal

The Gunners have released long-serving central midfielders Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini and Tomas Rosicky this summer. The first two of the lot were defensive midfielders and their departure certainly paves the way for Xhaka to become an integral member of the starting eleven at the Emirates Stadium from the coming season.

Arsenal also signed Mohamed Elneny earlier this year and the Egyptian, alongside the Swiss, is likely to serve the Gunners’ midfield for a long time to come.

Prospects with the national team

The 23-year-old, who moved to Switzerland at a young age after the outbreak of civil war in the erstwhile Yugoslavia, has become an indispensable member of the national team. He has gone on to become a fixture in the team’s midfield and has already earned 44 caps, scoring six goals in the process.

In Switzerland’s opening European Championship fixture against the Albania national team, Xhaka gave a splendid display, partnering Valon Behrami in a 4-2-3-1 formation as the Swiss went on to register a 1-0 win.

He is likely to don the captain’s armband for the Swiss national team in the future.

Resemblance with a football great

With his ability to break play and spread passes, Xhaka has a similar style to 2014 World Cup winner Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Achievements so far

  • Captaining Borussia Monchengladbach at just 22.
  • International debut at 18.
  • Appearances at the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 European Championship.

Quirky Facts

  • His brother Taulant Xhaka plays for the Albania national team and the duo became the first set of brothers to play against each other in a European Championship match.
  • He reportedly gives 80 per cent of his earnings to his parents.
  • Xhaka received his fifth red card for Borussia Monchengladbach in his 95th game, after striking an opponent player; the talented youngster voluntarily gave €20,000 to charity as an apology.
  • Granit won the U-17 World Cup with Switzerland in 2010.