Arsenal are set to offer counselling to club captain Granit Xhaka following his high profile falling out with fans on Sunday. The Swiss midfielder was heckled as he left the pitch when substituted and responded by cupping his hand to his ear before removing his shirt and heading straight down the tunnel.
Xhaka also provocatively raised his arms in the air and was seen telling a section of Arsenal fans to ‘f*** off’. It has prompted a debate as to whether he should play for the club again.
Xhaka has so far not apologised for his actions, despite Gunners boss Unai Emery revealing that the club has advised the player to do so.
“I prefer to [apologise for mistakes]. We suggest to him to do it,” Emery said.
The Arsenal manager also described Xhaka as ‘devastated’ about what happened and now it has come to light that the club will offer counselling to the player to protect his mental wellbeing.
It is said that he has been ‘particularly fragile’ for a month already after similar jeering when he was substituted during the win over Aston Villa in late September. He is said to be ‘deeply upset’ at being targeted by Arsenal fans on social media and even recently took the step of disabling comments on his Instagram posts so that he could stop one avenue of the abuse.
Since the weekend, Xhaka has changed his Instagram profile picture from an image of in Arsenal colours to one of him representing Switzerland instead.
The Mail also reveals that Arsenal players are ‘privately backing’ their captain, who was initially handed the armband as a result of a squad vote, highlighting his popularity within the club.
Defender Hector Bellerin posted a message on social media, which, while not explicitly referencing Xhaka or the fans, called for unity
His message next to an image of Arsenal players celebrating reads: "We are all humans, we all have emotions, and sometimes it's not easy dealing with them. It's time to lift each other up, not to push each other away. We only win when we are together."