Granit Xhaka has been one of Arsenal’s best performers this season, bagging five goals and seven assists, however The Sun has reported that he may be seeking a move to Germany.
The mooted destination is Bayer Leverkusen, who are reportedly willing to offer him a five year contract, which would tie him down until he is almost 36.
Financially speaking, there is no better time to move Xhaka on, however the £20m reported fee wouldn’t make much of an impact to Arsenal’s balance sheet, but the loss of his influence within the squad could be huge.
The time has come for Arsenal to upgrade on Xhaka on a technical level, however that does not mean he should be sold, as the number of games the club will have next season is going to increase drastically.
On a physical level, there are also very few with Xhaka’s availability. Since arriving at Arsenal he has played almost every game, generally only missing games through suspension, and this year has missed one through illness, made one appearance from the bench and started 33 in the Premier League.
His availability has led to a huge amount of experience, and he is someone who has saw Arsenal at their worst and been one of the leaders in the dressing room who has stood up and helped bring the team forward.
As the team has grown, it has outgrown Xhaka as a number six, but he grabbed the opportunity to play as an eight with both hands, and came back last summer in better shape than ever, and has thrived in a position that no one could have imagined him playing.
That desire to change and adapt is difficult to find in top level athletes, especially ones around 30 years old, who have established themselves in a certain way, and want to continue playing the same role.
Having a character like this rubs off on those around him, and when a senior player is that much behind a manager that he will completely reinvent himself for the good of the team, it will have a huge influence on young players.
Alongside his influence, Xhaka has a positional intelligence that few others possess, and when he is out of the team, there is a hole left in his place, which is particularly noticeable in transitions.
In the eight position, all of his defensive strengths are brought to life, and his weaknesses are protected, meaning he can offer a lot of protection to both Zinchenko and Partey when teams break, but also offer great support in attack, which his goals and assists have proved.
With Jorginho, Partey, Elneny and Xhaka all over 30, the midfield needs upgrades and reinforcements, but that doesn’t mean someone with an engine like Xhaka’s should go.
Arsenal shouldn’t have to sell a senior player to upgrade; they should be building strength in numbers in midfield, because with Champions League football and greater focus on the cups, it will be needed.
Written by: Adam Keys (adamkeys_)