Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta revealed he wanted to bring Granit Xhaka to Manchester City in 2016 as the new boss talked up the former Gunners captain’s future at Emirates Stadium.
Xhaka has been linked with a move away from Arsenal following a turbulent season in London, which saw the midfielder stripped of the armband under Unai Emery after reacting angrily to his substitution during a Premier League clash against Crystal Palace in October.
After a falling out with some of Arsenal’s fans, former Borussia Monchengladbach star Xhaka has found himself back in the fold amid links to Bundesliga outfit Hertha Berlin.
Arteta, though, has no intention of parting with Xhaka, who was a potential transfer target for Pep Guardiola and City prior to the Switzerland international’s move to Arsenal three years ago.
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“When I was going from Arsenal to City to start coaching and we were looking in that position, he was one of the players on my list,” said Arteta, who left City for Arsenal last week. “This is how much I liked him. I was happy when Arsenal signed him because I thought he was going to be a terrific player.
“He has done some really good things and now he has got stuck in a very difficult situation that, I think, was growing and growing and growing and one day it exploded.
“But I have been amazed as well by how this relationship is starting to come back a little bit and I think the fans have been very, very positive about him. Obviously it is difficult to change completely the scenario from where he was to a magnificent one. But I think we are in the right direction with him.”
“I told him how much I like him and what I expect from him,” Arteta added. “How important he is for the team. I am here to help him, I want him to feel that we are right behind him. Not just myself but the whole club.
“If we can get the people in the right way as well, the fans with him, I think it will be helpful for the team, which is where it matters.”
Arteta will oversee his first match in charge since replacing Emery when Arsenal travel to Bournemouth on Boxing Day.
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