Unpopular Opinion: Arsenal should build their squad around Granit Xhaka

When it comes to Granit Xhaka, you feel as though you have to bite your tongue with Arsenal supporters.

The Swiss midfielder is a controversial figure at the Emirates Stadium, deservedly so after some of the toothless performances he’s put in for the Gunners since arriving.

This is a player who can produce moments of brilliance, an asset that saw him score a thunderbolt of a free-kick against Crystal Palace last season.

Yet it’s also a man who, for all the wrong reasons, somehow finds a way to cause havoc. Last season he made two errors that led directly to goals in the Premier League.

One that particularly stood out was against Brighton, dragging down Solly March in a game which ultimately would go onto cost Arsenal their place in the top four.

To say Xhaka has a moment of madness in him would be an understatement but a year on from when he signed a new contract with the club, why would Arsenal want to sell?

There are many reasons. Firstly, the club needs to improve on their measly transfer budget for the summer, whilst secondly, they could do with moving on someone who doesn’t perform to a consistent level.

After being made Arsenal’s second most expensive signing of all time when he first arrived, you’d be forgiven for expecting more from the midfielder.

At international level Xhaka is a leader. He captains his country and is one of their star players, bearing the responsibility of a nation.

But in Islington, it seems as though the pressure gets to him. Only he will know why his performance levels drop to the level they do.

With that in mind, there is a strong argument to suggest Arsenal should get rid of him. Certain fans seemingly want that to happen after reacting to the chance of a potential exit.

In many ways, though, they’re wrong. Xhaka might be a much maligned figure but he’s not one that’ll back down from a fight easily.

After all, this is an individual who comes from a family where his father was imprisoned for protesting in favour of Kosovo’s independence.

But having been the subject of a report linking him with a move to Inter Milan, Arsenal need to keep their 26-year-old midfielder at the club, not cash in.

Xhaka himself has hinted that he’ll be sticking around and although that may not please too many at the Emirates, it’s the right move.

The Switzerland international is a player who in the years to come should be a mainstay in this Gunners unit.

For all too long Arsenal have needed steel and determination. It’s one of the reasons they’ve been so lightweight when it’s come to challenging for major honours.

The tough tackling midfielder is now heading towards the prime of his career and as a result, is someone Unai Emery needs to base his Arsenal project around.

Since the days of Patrick Vieira and Gilberto Silva the north London club have lacked players with a bullish attitude. Xhaka has that in abundance and it would be foolish to sell despite his mistakes.

After the farcical end to Arsenal’s season in Baku, you could make a case for selling a host of the current XI.

Xhaka appears to be one of the leading candidates but by allowing him to leave, Raul Sanllehi and Emery would be making a huge blunder.

It’s perhaps a stretch too far to suggest the former Gladbach man should be captain but he certainly has the tenacity and desire to be in the conversation.

As well as missing steel in midfield, there’s been a real lack of leadership since the Invincibles. Xhaka, however, is someone who stands up when it matters.

After the Europa League final he was the ringleader in thanking the travelling supporters inside the ground. It was a testament to the character he possesses.

Based on that evidence, if the Swiss isn’t the type of person you want at your club you have to be questioned.

Going into a summer where Arsenal need significant investment, selling Xhaka in order to do so would be an error of judgement. They simply have to keep him.

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