Granit Xhaka: All you need to know

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Granit Xhaka has joined Arsenal from Borussia Monchengladbach for a fee of £30m with possible add-ons in the future up to £35m. 

The facts:

  • 23-years-old
  • Born and raised in Basel, Switzerland, to Kosovo Albanian parents
  • His brother (25) plays for Albania
  • He has signed a 5-year-contract worth a reported £110,000 a week
  • “I was almost speechless when he called”, referring to Wenger’s first call to him.
  • Arsenal scouts have watched him play 30 times before signing him.
  • Xhaka made the Bundesliga Team of the Year last season, alongside Bayern stars Vidal, Muller and Lewandowski.
  • He captained Gladbach last year despite his age, and led them to fourth in the Bundesliga and played in the Champions League (although finished 4th behind Man City, Juventus and Sevilla in a tough group).
  • Granit also captained Switzerland at u17 and u21 age groups, winning the u17 World Cup and taking them to the u21 Euros final.
  • He has an aggressive side. Sent off 8 times in his career to date, he averages a booking every four games.
  • Nicknamed “the little Einstein”, he is not prolific with goals or assists, but similarly to Cazorla, helps break up the play and lays the foundations for attacks.
  • In his first interview with Arsenal he’s already speaking English, despite having never played in an English-speaking country. He can speak four languages, which could come in useful on the pitch.
  • All of the above show he is a leader. Aggressive, passionate, multi-linguist, communicator, winner.
  • In January he joked that he would take take Coquelin’s number 34 shirt if Arsenal signed him.
  • Xhaka won Gladbach’s goal of the year award in two of his three seasons there.
  • Ottmar Hitzfeld, former Switzerland boss and two-times Champions League winner, compared Xhaka to a “young Schweinsteiger”.
  • You can watch him in action for Switzerland at Euro 2016 this summer.

 

After joining, Xhaka told the clubs official website: “I’m very proud to be joining Arsenal. I cannot wait to move to London, represent this special club and play in the Premier League. I will give everything to help Arsenal win trophies and make the fans happy.”

Arsenal not giving up on Benzema transfer

Arsenal are not ready to give up on their hopes of signing Real Madrid star, Karim Benzema, after a summer full of transfer rumours linking him with the club which have thus far only left Arsenal fans disappointed and wanting. 

However, The Guardian and The Telegraph have both reported that Arsenal and Arsene Wenger are still holding out to try and secure a deal for the 27-year-old, perhaps in a fashion similar to which Mesut Ozil was signed on the last day of the 2013 transfer window for a club record £42.5m.

Real Madrid manager, Rafa Benitez, has already publicly stated his desire to keep both Benzema and Bale at the club next season, and Wenger has also claimed that there was nothing in the rumours; yet it is a transfer story that just won’t go away, and for the optimists among us, you must think there is something in these non-stop stories.

The Frenchman has not travelled to Munich for the Audi Cup with the rest of the Madrid squad, after an apparent “training injury” which is also Ronaldo’s reason for missing the pre-season tournament.

It is believed that Benitez is looking to try something different with his squad after a relatively unsuccessful season (by their high standards) from Madrid, in their last campaign.

This was seen on Tuesday night as they defeated Tottenham 2-0, with Gareth Bale playing in a central role. Something he has specifically asked for according to reports in Spain.

If this is the case it could leave Benzema out of the starting eleven, and a move away from the Bernabeu could be on the cards.

Furthermore, it is unlike Madrid to not make a big signing during the transfer window, and this year they have yet to splash the cash as we are so accustomed to seeing. A striker could be on their radar, and if Benzema were to leave you would have to imagine it would be.

There is still a way to go in this transfer window, despite the season starting on Sunday, and as we have seen an innumerable amount of times in the past, a lot of the action doesn’t happen until late on.

Arsene Wenger will surely have something, or someone, up his sleeve.

Walcott contract talks still unresolved

Theo Walcott - Singapore

Theo Walcott has yet to put pen to paper on a new contract at the Emirates, but still has two years left on his current deal after he signed on for three and a half years, eighteen months ago, a saga that was also overly drawn out.

However the 26-year-old is hopeful of staying at a ‘special’ club and is looking forward to what could prove to be a big year for the team, he believes.

“My agent has talked to the club.

“I enjoy playing for this club, so I am just letting them crack on with things and I’ll continue playing football.

“We’ll just play the waiting game and see what happens but I’m sure it won’t be long. This squad, for me, is one of the best I’ve been involved in. I want to be part of that.”

Asked whether he would be happy if the talks carried on past the start of the upcoming campaign, he added: “Definitely. It’s not in my thought process at all.

“You don’t want to dwell on it, you want to play well and, if it happens, it happens.

“I won’t let that delay the way I’m going to be playing this season. I can’t let that affect me, I want to do well for this club.

“It’s my first pre-season for two years now, so I want to work hard and get fit.

“It’s a really exciting year for myself personally and I think this team can go very far.”

Adding: “I’m always going to be judged on goals. I’ve been very happy with my goal record when given the opportunity, that is all I can do.”

Arsenal are reported to be in the market for a striker, despite a strong end to the season from Theo who continued his goalscoring form at the weekend, scoring the opener in a 3-1 win over Everton to win the Barclays Asia Trophy.

The strikers names most recently being mentioned are those of Karim Benzema and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, having already missed out on some targets there is not a wealth of proven talent left to select from.

So is it vital that Arsenal sign a striker in order to compete for the major trophies?

5 Things Petr Cech Will Bring to Arsenal

What would the Czech Republic and Chelsea goalkeeper bring to Arsenal?

1. First and foremost, Petr Cech is an experienced and proven goalkeeper. He has won multiple Premier League’s and a Champions League, and therefore will come with a winning mentality. A trait the Arsenal players are starting to learn themselves after back-to-back FA Cup victories.

2. Secondly, Cech will provide Arsenal with some stability in goal. A position that has been filled by players that weren’t quite good enough, mistake prone, or just down right incompetent, since the depature of Jens Lehman all too long ago now. Funnily enough, it is David Ospina who is probably the best goalkeeper Arsenal have had since those days, but now looks likely to leave with Petr Cech’s arrival, who is still nonetheless, an upgrade.

3. Arsene Wenger claimed it was Ospina who is the best goalkeeper in the league, statistically. But he was wrong. Petr Cech may have only played 7 games in the league this season, but he did have a statistically better save percentage than Ospina. 88% compared to just 80%. Meanwhile Szczesny’s 60% is not even worth a look in. Then clean sheets and mistakes made, also epitomise Cech’s level of professionalism and that is a general word-class talent. He is the best of three. The stats don’t lie, do they Arsene.

4. Petr Cech will also bring with him, his leadership. He will command the back four as any good keeper should, but this is something we haven’t seen at Arsenal for all too long. It is this traditional sense of a goalkeeper commanding his box, his area, that we haven’t seen. Making any loose balls his. Making the defenders sure of where their man is, and where they should be. The keeper sees the whole game, and this communication and leadership is key to not conceding.

5. Finally, Arsenal now have a vacancy in the form of a goalkeeping coach position, after previous coach, Tony Roberts, left to join Swansea last week. Chelsea coach, Christpohe Lollichon, followed Cech to Chelsea from Rennes in 2007. It looks likely this could be something else Cech brings with him. Is this all a coincidence? I think not. Lollichon believes Cech has “3 or 4 excellent seasons” left in him. And what better way to prolong your career at the top, than to bring the coach who knows you better than anyone with you?

Sky Sports believe he has already agreed terms with Arsenal, and Chelsea star believes he is worth 15 points a season.

Arsenal want Monaco’s Kondogbia

Arsenal are in a battle with Italian giants, Inter Milan, for the signing of Monaco’s defensive midfielder, Geoffrey Kondogbia, according to sources in Italian media. 

At 22 years-old he is young, but has already proven himself as a huge talent, moving to Monaco from Sevilla where he also impressed, in 2013 for €20 million.

Arsenal are in need of a defensive midfielder to improve their squad, if not their first team, with the likes of Matthieu Flamini and Mikel Arteta seemingly heading for the exit door this summer. Even if both of them do not leave, they are players whose quality could certainly be improved upon.

The Frenchman put in a man of the match performance against Arsenal at the Emirates earlier this year, helping his side knock them out of the Champions League Round of 16.

Although Francis Coquelin has been a big part of the Arsenal starting eleven in the latter half of this season, it is widely thought of as an area in need of strengthening even further. Too often Arsenal struggle to balance attack and defence in the big games, costing them valuable points, or champions league progression.

Kondogbia, is young and French and talented, and therefore fits the bill for an ideal Wenger signing. But the midfielder is currently on £200k+ per week at Monaco, and has three more years to run on his contract, making a deal seem unlikely unless the player is willing to sacrifice some of his wage.

In terms of the transfer fee though, in Italy they are reporting that Monaco would be willing to sell him, so long as they make a considerable profit on the player. A rumoured £25m seems a fair amount in this climate for someone of his age and potential.

Inter Milan are looking for reinforcements so that they can fight their way back into Champions League contention next season, but Arsenal on the other hand have already gained automatic qualification, which along with their French contingent and Arsene Wenger, you would think would make Arsenal preferable should he leave.

However, Arsenal are lining up a number of defensive midfield options should things here not work out, with Schneiderlin and Vidal still being monitored as well, leaving Arsene and his team with some big decisions to make.

Source: Sky Sports Italia Journalist – Di Marzio