Granit Xhaka admits he was ready to leave

Granit Xhaka is a player that continues to split opinions.

The Switzerland international can provide a number of top performances for Arsenal at times, although there are many that would argue that these are too few and far between as many will be incredibly frustrated with what he does when representing the club.

Indeed, there was the moment between him and the fans in the game against Crystal Palace back in 2019 when the two teams drew 2-2. It involved Xhaka as he was being substituted off the pitch to a chorus of boos and jeers, something he then retaliated to.

Of course, unless you were checking out the goldenrivieracasino site for your gambling needs at the time, you will know that he reacted angrily to the situation, as he cupped his ears, waved his arms around and swore at the crowd as he let them know what he thought.

Naturally, football is a fickle sport and whilst this memory will not have been forgotten, there will have been some who would have brushed it under the carpet, including Xhaka himself.

In an interview with the Players’ Tribune, the former captain – who was stripped after the debacle – admitted that he was prepared to leave the Emirates Stadium and had another offer on the table.

“My bags were packed. The passports were out,” Xhaka told The Players’ Tribune.

“I was done with Arsenal. Finished. There was a contract on the table from another club, and all I had to do was sign.”

“I had barely begun to move when I heard the boos. And it was not just a few guys in the corner – it was a lot of people. I was shocked. I had never experienced anything like this. When I got close to the tunnel, I looked up at the fans sitting there – and this is the part that I will always remember.

“When I close my eyes now, I can still see their faces. I can see their anger. It’s not that they don’t like me. No, it’s different. This is hate. Pure hate. I am really not exaggerating this.

“To feel that level of hatred and disrespect, I wouldn’t want it for my worst enemy. Still to this day, if we have lost, I hate walking those last metres to the tunnel, because I still recognise the faces. The same people are sitting there.

“So now, I just keep my head down. I lived through that nightmare once. I don’t ever want to do it again.”

Despite the issues, which those who may have encountered beforehand would have acted upon and used instead, Xhaka revealed that his decision to stay at the club was correct and feels vindicated to this day, although admitted that things would never be the same.

“Today I know I made the right decision, absolutely, because I’m still here,” Xhaka said. “But I can’t pretend that my relationship with the fans will ever be the same, because that moment will always be in my heart.

“I would like us to have a better relationship. I would like us to understand each other better. That is exactly why I’m telling you all this. I know we players are privileged, but you have to understand that our lives can be very, very difficult, too.

“Of course, you never get to know about our problems, because we never talk, and we never do anything together. To you we are just players running around for 90 minutes and then, ‘Goodbye!’ But I don’t think this is right.”

Perhaps one way in which he can start to make things better is to help the Gunners qualify for the Champions League? That would be a great way to start to repair some of the fractured relationships between him and the fans, right?