Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka looks set to leave the club in the January transfer window after he was stripped of the club captaincy by Unai Emery.
The Switzerland international was cheered off when he was substituted in the Gunners' 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in October, and further goaded fans into a reaction as he left the pitch, throwing the captain's armband on the floor, swearing at the home support, taking his shirt off and walking straight down the tunnel.
Emery admitted that he informed Xhaka of his decision to remove him from his 'leadership group' and replace him with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as captain on Tuesday morning, and now it looks like his Arsenal career is over.
The Times report that Xhaka is upset about the decision and will look to leave the Emirates Stadium in search of first-team football as soon as possible, with a return to the Bundesliga a possibility.
With Euro 2020 on the horizon and Xhaka the captain of his country, he needs to be playing regularly in order to keep his place in the national side.
Absolutely the right call to take the captaincy off Xhaka. Damage was irreversible. Whether he still has a future as an Arsenal player we will have to wait and see. Possibly, but you would think only for the short-term. An exit now feels inevitable.— Charles Watts (@charles_watts) November 5, 2019
The midfielder's response to the incident against Palace was delayed and explained in a message posted on Instagram four days after the match that the constant stream of abuse from fans saw him reach a breaking point. He apologised for how his reaction was perceived but was dropped for their games against Liverpool and Wolves.
Xhaka has also been omitted from Arsenal's squad travelling to Portugal for their Europa League tie at Vitoria Guimaraes, and there's plenty to suggest that he's already played his last minutes for the Gunners.
I feel for Xhaka. He’s always given his best. To be ‘stripped of captaincy’ is quite harsh and it sets a dangerous precedent i.e. the abuse & boos win. Stick up for your players, protect them. We’ve just thrown him under the bus. End for him.— FK ☕️🐍 (@fkhanage) November 5, 2019
However, Hector Bellerin has reportedly been giving advice to Xhaka after he too suffered abuse from Arsenal fans, but insisted in Tuesday's pre-match press conference that even though the players back him, the decision of the club and the coach must be respected.