Arsene Wenger has explained the reasons behind his omission of Granit Xhaka
The Swiss midfielder was signed for a fee believed to be between £30-35 million, and the size of that fee led to many thinking that Xhaka would immediately slot into the Arsenal midfield alongside Santi Cazorla.
However, Xhaka has only made 11 appearances this season – 6 of which have come as a substitute – and that has left many fans bewildered as to why Wenger refuses to start the 24-year old.
According to The Guardian, Wenger had this to say about his reasoning behind benching Xhaka :
“He needs to adapt to the way we play and the tactical pace of the English game,” Wenger said.
“I am confident he will do very well. People want you to buy players but when you buy them we only pick 11 and not 22 and they feel sorry for the 11 who do not play. But you want them to compete and convince you that they can get in the team and it becomes obvious they have to play.”
Wenger also said that Xhaka is more of a playmaker than an out-and-out defensive midfielder:
“He’s more a deep playmaker I think than a box-to-box player. He does not get into the final third of the opposition half a lot.He is more a guy who has a fantastic pass to play through the lines. He gets the ball from the defenders and finds the high midfield.”
Wenger is clearly being careful with his new signing, but the fact that Xhaka has only completed 90 minutes is surprising given his talents.
Xhaka possesses brilliant passing ability and is a midfielder in the mould of Xabi Alonso – a player that Wenger once tried to sign from Liverpool.
The midfielder also possess a hammer of a shot, as evidenced by his goals against Hull City and Nottingham forest.
However, his discipline is a definite area of concern to Wenger, who has previously stated his hesitation to play Xhaka in games that might be intense or ill-tempered.
Given the injury to Santi Cazorla, it is even more surprising that Xhaka continues to be left on the bench. However, Arsenal’s next match against Bournemouth could be a good opportunity for Wenger to give Xhaka a chance.
Ironically, it was Xhaka’s arrival that hastened a loan deal for Jack Wilshere – who Wenger today said will be offered a new contract – who has played 9 games already for Bournemouth this season.
Arsenal face off against Eddie Howe’s side at The Emirates on Sunday, 27th November.