Player Profile - Granit Xhaka

Arsenal have completed the signing of Switzerland international Granit Xhaka
Arsenal's new signing Granit Xhaka looking to hit the ground running from the start
Arsenal Complete Xhaka Signing

Personal information
Full name: Granit Xhaka
Date of birth: 27 September 1992
Age: 23
Place of birth: Basel, Switzerland
Height: 1.85 m (6 ft 1 in)
Playing position: Midfielder

Club information
Current team: Arsenal
Number: TBA

Youth career
2000–2002: Concordia Basel
2002–2010: Basel

Senior career
2010–2012: Basel 67 Appearances, 3 goals
2012–2016: Borussia Monchengladbach 134 Appearances, 9 goals
2016– Arsenal 0 Appearances, 0 goals

National team
2008–2009: Switzerland U17 14 Appearances, 1 goal
2009–2010: Switzerland U18 14 Appearances, 3 goals
2010–2011: Switzerland U19 10 Appearances, 3 goals
2010–2011: Switzerland U21 5 Appearances, 0 goals
2011– Switzerland 40 Appearances, 6 goals

Arsenal has appeared to have completed their deal for Granit Xhaka after the Swiss star was pictured wearing their kit for the 2016/17 season. Xhaka has been Arsenal’s top midfield target this year and the Gunners are thought to have agreed a fee of around £30million. Arsenal has watched the Borussia Monchengladbach star a staggering 30 times this season. So who is the Switzerland international, a man, that two-time Champions League-winning coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has declared “an absolute top player, capable of playing for any top team in the world”.

Having seemingly been around forever but still only 23, the Swiss playmaker was at the heart of a Borussia Monchengladbach side looking to bring the good times back. Xhaka arrived at Borussia-Park in 2012 for £6.3million from Swiss side Basel after a stellar year for the Swiss side, winning the league and cup double, with Xhaka named the Swiss Premier League’s young player of the year. They also reached the last 16 of the Champions League, knocking out Manchester United en route. Before then, Xhaka led Switzerland to Under-17 World Cup glory in Nigeria in 2009, before the Euro Under-21 finals in 2011 where they finished runners-up. Xhaka, born to Kosovo Albanian parents was fast-tracked into the senior Swiss ranks, becoming a full international shortly after his 18th birthday. During his two years in Basel’s first-team- he made his full debut as a 17-year-old - he had been one of two shooting stars at St Jakob’s Park. The other was Xherdan Shaqiri. While Shaqiri moved to Europe’s elite - Bayern Munich and Inter Milan, seeing his reputation grow immeasurably - Xhaka took a more modest route as he looked to hone his game; his talent has never been in doubt, however his inconsistencies needed ironing out. Mostly that has happened, occasional hot-headedness aside.

Granit Xhaka posing by Arsenal's training ground

Handed the captain’s armband by new manager Andre Schubert, and more than 100 appearances later, is being touted as the potential answer to Arsenal's defensive midfield problems. After a dismal start to the season which saw Lucien Favre resign - just months after leading the side into the Champions League - Gladbach ended the campaign having again secured a top four spot. Xhaka was a key reason why, flourishing under the added responsibility thrust upon him and playing the best football of his four-year spell in the North Rhine. However, Xhaka's ascent in the last 12 months has been a double-edged sword for the German side. While it’s pushed them higher - they claimed a top four spot once again, scoring more goals than anyone in Germany bar Bayern and Dortmund in the process - it has meant Gladbach are unlikely to be able to keep hold of their star turn for much longer.

Back in January, Xhaka was clear about where he sees his future - namely, the Premier League: "England is my dream. I do not hide it. Whether I’ll be happy there, only the good Lord knows. "For me money is not important. Otherwise I would not move from Basel to Monchengladbach in 2012. It’s about being a big challenge for me as a footballer."  Xhaka had a contract at Borussia Park until 2019, which contained a £22million release clause. However, that doesn’t kick in until the summer of 2017.Therefore, if Gladbach do want to maximise their skipper’s value, then this summer is the time. A fee in excess of £30million would be almost double their record sale - which took Marco Reus to Borussia Dortmund in 2012. In Xhaka, Arsenal may have finally found the man to add serious steel to the Gunners' midfield. Why? Well, his disciplinary record in the Bundesliga speaks for itself. Only two players committed more fouls this season than Granit Xhaka (73. While only one player has earned more red cards than Xhaka (five) over the last three seasons in Europe's top five leagues (England, Germany, Italy, Spain, France). His tackles won ratio (79%) will also please fans, as it ranks very favourably against the likes of Francis Coquelin (79%), Aaron Ramsey (76%), Mathieu Flamini (65%), Mohamed Elneny (80%) and Santi Cazorla (82%). Granit's impressive going forward, too: he created 22 goalscoring chances this season - with one being converted - and 85% of his 2,316 passes were completed. His shooting accuracy came in at 48% - more than Coquelin (0%), Ramsey (46%), Flamini (40%), Elneny (40%) and Cazorla (44%). Xhaka is intelligent in possession, composed on the ball, and keeps things ticking over for Gladbach.

Xhaka has been Die Fohlen’s creative hub for the last 18 months, sculpting play from the heart of midfield with his immaculate left foot. Technically gifted, he reads the game well and is robust enough to do the nasty work as well; in many ways, particularly in terms of tenacity, capable of throwing himself into a block tackle on the edge of his own box, before popping up seconds later looking to attack the game.  Additionally, he’s really stepped up his game as a leader, thinking about the performances of his teammates and not just himself since being handed greater responsibility by Schubert.  He's not a prolific scorer from midfield, nor will he top the assist charts; but he's often the man who instigates moves, the "Little Einstein" - so-called due to his interest in science - who looks to lay the foundations to attacks.