A captain is supposed to be someone who you can lean on, somebody who can step up and take control of the team in both the good and the bad times. When things are going wrong, a leader is meant to stand up and take responsibility.
A captain is not supposed to throw their toys out of the pram when faced with criticism, yet that's what we saw from Arsenal's Granit Xhaka in Sunday's 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
When the midfielder was substituted, he was greeted with a chorus of boos as he left the field, but Xhaka lost his cool and responded. He cupped his hand to the ear, shouted something at the fans and looked to be egging them on. Xhaka then threw his shirt off and stormed down the tunnel.
Not a great afternoon for Granit Xhaka...— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) October 28, 2019
The Arsenal captain was jeered by his own fans as he was substituted, before reportedly swearing at the crowd and rejecting a handshake from Unai Emery! 😳
Read the Arsenal manager's response here: https://t.co/i0Jq3l1qJN pic.twitter.com/DRb3JXrXm9
Yes, it's not easy having your own supporters cheer at the idea of you not playing, but that's irrelevant. This is the club captain, the man who is supposed to embody everything Arsenal represents.
This is his team. He has to take responsibility for their struggles. Under no circumstances should he - of all people - react like that.
The fans have a right to voice their frustrations with Xhaka. He has been an accident waiting to happen ever since his arrival in 2016, and his general level of play has never been good enough.
Whether it's misplacing a pass, flying into a tackle with reckless abandon or making yet another costly mistake, Xhaka has made plenty of enemies during his three years with Arsenal, and most supporters have grown tired of seeing him mess up time and time again.
Now given a leadership role, the onus was on Xhaka to eliminate those errors from his game. You want your captain to be inspirational, not inconsistent.
Yet, he hasn't.
He continues to underperform, but is now just doing it under a more-intense spotlight.
If he can't rise to the challenge, he should never have been given the captaincy in the first place. Now, it seems like the only option is for the armband to be taken away from him.
Manager Unai Emery has already confirmed that club officials will meet to discuss his role at the club going forward, but that conversation can only go one way. He cannot continue as the leader, and he'll be lucky to even continue as part of the matchday squad.
Judging by his response, he has no interest in being at the club anymore. Most fans don't even want him there either, so it's time for him to go.
Unfortunately, finding a buyer for an inconsistent 27-year-old with a history of costing his team goals isn't going to be easy. Regardless, Arsenal certainly do need to at least try, because he is not the player they thought they were signing three years ago.