Granit Xhaka was stripped of the Arsenal captaincy back in November 2019 following a public outburst against the club’s supporters, but the Swiss midfielder has worked his way back into favour and claims he would be open to taking the armband back.
The 29-year-old appeared to have little future at Emirates Stadium after responding to jeers from his own fans when being substituted during a Premier League game against Crystal Palace, with exit doors seemingly swinging open.
He has been heavily linked with Roma since then, but has been talked into staying put by Mikel Arteta and has become an on-field leader for the Gunners once more – to the point that he could be appointed as a permanent successor to the departed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang when another call on skipper duty is made.
Could Granit Xhaka become Arsenal captain again?
Xhaka has seen the likes of Alexandre Lacazette and Martin Odegaard take captain responsibilities of late, but has told Sky Sports when asked if he could be in the frame: “I will never say never. I was not ready for that again.
“A captain of Arsenal can be without an armband and I am trying to lead the game and the players without the armband, but if tomorrow someone from the football club comes and asks if I want to take it I will be here because I know I am ready again to do it.”
He added on the incident which saw him stepped down as Arsenal captain: “After this happened people were telling me this is not hate, but for me this was absolutely hate. I know what hate is and I know what is love and what is between this. This was not in between, it was not love it was hate.
“I have had very positive feedback from the fans and from social media and I was very proud of myself. You don’t get a lot of players talking about this, being very open, they are scared for the future.
“For me, it was the perfect time. You still have people that say you won’t change our opinion but that is fine, the most important thing is how I feel and that is very good.”
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Xhaka has taken in 25 appearances for Arsenal across all competitions this season and is fast closing in on 250 outings for the club.
He is tied to a contract through to 2024 and hopes that a decision to remain in north London will be vindicated by Champions League qualification this season, with Arteta’s side in the process of chasing down a top-four finish.
Xhaka said ahead of a derby date with West Ham on Sunday: “I want to play against the best and to achieve as well.
“The key is to be together and keep the belief. It is always easier if you win to stay together, but the most difficult time is when you lose. You have to stay strong with each other.
“I am feeling very proud of myself, we are feeling very good as a team. There is a lot of respect, we laugh together, we are sad and disappointed together – that is part of our job – but in general we are very happy. We have done a great job until now because we are in a very good position and it is all in our hands.”