Granit Xhaka says Mikel Arteta is ‘more than the right manager’ for Arsenal and urged fans not to overlook the club’s hard work over the past year in the wake of their failed Premier League title pursuit.
The Gunners’ hopes of clinching the top flight trophy were dashed by a 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest on Saturday, crowning Manchester City as champions for the fifth time in six seasons.
Arsenal had occupied the top spot for an impressive 248 days during the campaign and even held an eight-point lead over City in March. However, a late-season capitulation which included bad results against Liverpool, West Ham, Southampton and Brighton saw them fall short in the run-in.
Despite missing out on the title, Xhaka claimed Arsenal‘s progress this season under manager Arteta should be acknowledged and used as the foundation for future success.
When asked about Arteta’s ability to lead the team’s pursuit of City in future seasons, the midfielder responded: “You can forget this question. He is more than the right manager for this team.”
While Arsenal’s form in their final eight games is cause for concern with only two wins during that period, Xhaka argued the progress made throughout the season should not be disregarded.
“We don’t need to forget how we worked for the last 11 months,” he added. “If someone told us before the season that we would be here, I think everyone would sign it. Our goal for sure was to be back in the top four. Now we are second. Of course, when you are so close to the title, you want to win the title. But we are there where we are, deserve to be where we are, and let’s see what happens next season. We have to go and do the next step.”
90min understands Xhaka is due to leave Arsenal this summer after he backed away from contract discussions, with his current deal due to expire in 2024. Bayer Leverkusen have held talks over a €15m move.
Asked about his future, he added: “You will know latest next week, for sure.
“Where I have been three years ago and where I am today, I think I grew up like a person, like a player, and I got the respect back, what I think I deserve as well from the fans.
“I think [the fans] deserve that as well and I do myself as well. We have one more week of this Premier League season, the first thing is I want to enjoy [it], and for sure you guys will know next week what happens with my future.”