If were you asked which Premier League player gets more abuse than anyone else, Granit Xhaka would probably be the first name that would come to mind. The Swiss midfielder has been at Arsenal since 2016, and as he enters his fourth season in north London, it seems he is now getting more criticism than ever.
Xhaka’s performances seem to divide Arsenal fans more than any other player, with some supporting and encouraging him while others hounding him at every opportunity. Whether it be mistakes such as the penalty conceded in this month’s north London derby, or a series of fouls throughout a game, Xhaka tends to invite criticism.
So it has proven a controversial decision to announce Xhaka as official club captain, after he won a players’ vote and was selected by Unai Emery to be the new skipper. His appointment has again caused divide within the club’s fanbase, but despite this, Xhaka may actually be the best choice to lead Arsenal for the new season.
I like Emery but Xhaka as captain is a disgrace and that will end up getting him sacked, blokes not a footballer let alone club captain of Arsenal— Lee Gunner 🔴 (@LeeGunner82) September 27, 2019
Firstly, and most obviously, Xhaka was chosen for the players, by the players. Emery and the squad have the belief and trust in Xhaka to be their leader. Arsenal fans should be thankful that Xhaka assumed power through democracy, especially with its current absence in British politics.
Emery himself explained why Xhaka deserves to be captain, saying (via the club’s official website): “He is mature and he has experience. The most important thing is to stand up in each moment, go ahead and [for him] to show his quality, with his behaviour, with his commitment and in the dressing room the players voted for him as the first.”
He added: “I trust and believe in him and he is a good man, a good professional and a good player. Sometimes he has made a mistake, yes, but the most important thing is to analyse, to learn and to correct that in the future.”
To put it simply, the manager knows best.
Whoever the fans want as their captain, they’re not the ones being led out on the pitch. While they are entitled to their opinion, and arguably deserve a say in who wears the armband, at the end of the day it is the players themselves who are playing, and therefore should have the decision over who is most capable of leading them.
The decision to choose a new captain came after the departure of previous skipper Laurent Koscielny, who left Arsenal for Bordeaux after nine long years. With two of his vice-captains in Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey also leaving last season, it seems obvious to appoint the last remaining vice-captain in Xhaka as permanent skipper.
Xhaka already has previous leadership experience, from Arsenal and beyond. Xhaka has been the Switzerland captain for over a year, taking over from Augsburg defender Stephan Lichtsteiner. Xhaka is one of just two national team captains in the Arsenal squad, alongside Gabon’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
An experienced and respected player in the national team, Xhaka is adored by Swiss fans for his captaincy and his role at the heart of the team. He has been an exemplary captain for the Schweizer Nati and is certain to continue in the role for many years to come, thanks to his fantastic leadership skills and dedication to his country.
As well as this, Xhaka was the captain at his previous club Borussia Mönchengladbach. Not only was he appointed as skipper in 2015, but he became club captain at just 22 years old. If that doesn’t prove his leadership skills, it’s hard to think what will.
Xhaka has the support of the team, the experience needed and the quality to be an excellent captain. For all the criticism and backlash he endures, he is one of Arsenal’s best available leaders and has already proven himself capable of being captain.
Now all he needs is the support of everyone connected to Arsenal, because whether they like it or not, he is the new Arsenal captain.