Newly appointed Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said that mid-fielder Granit Xhaka is moving in the right direction as he rebuilds his relationship with the club’s fans and can be an important player for the team going forward.
Swiss international Xhaka reacted angrily at the fans after he booed off the pitch during a Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace in October.
Consequently, he was stripped of the captaincy by Arteta’s predecessor, Unai Emery and the Arsenal board.
But Arteta said that he will offer his full support to the former Borussia Monchengladbach man.
“When I was going from Arsenal to City to start coaching and we were looking at that position, he was one of the players on my list,” Arteta said during a press conference.
“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 has got stuck in a difficult situation that was growing and growing and one day it exploded.
Arteta, however, added that it will not be easy to change the scenario, completely.
“But I have been amazed by how this relationship is starting to come back a little bit and the fans have been positive about him. It’s difficult to change completely the scenario from where he was to a magnificent one. But we’re in the right direction,” he added.
Following his fallout with fans, Xhaka in his defence said that he had received abuse and death threats for his wife and newly-born daughter.
Xhaka has been linked with a move to Bundesliga outfit, Hertha Berlin, but Arteta said that he has talked with the player about his future.
“I told him how much I like him and what I expect from him, how important he is for the team,” Arteta added.
“I’m here to help him, I want him to feel we’re right behind him… if we can get fans in the right way as well… it’ll be helpful for the team.”
Arsenal will now face Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium, later today.