Friday 19 January 2018

Who is Granit Xhaka? All you need to know about Arsenal's £30 million Swiss target

Granit Xhaka
Granit Xhaka

Swiss international Granit Xhaka could be heading to Arsenal. Here's what you need to know about the Gunners' target.

He's Swiss, his brother's Albanian

That's right. Xhaka, 23, was born in Basel, Switzerland, to Kosovo-Albanian parents and was fast-tracked into the senior Swiss ranks, becoming a full international shortly after his 18th birthday.

His decision to play for Switzerland caused controversy, though, and when he faced Albania in 2014 World Cup qualifying, Xhaka, whose older brother Taulant Xhaka chose to represent the country of his parents' birth, was booed throughout. It all meaning the siblings are set to play against each other at Euro 2016.

The 'young Schweinsteiger'

Xhaka has been one of the jewels in the Swiss football crown since his teenage years.

His idol was Zinedine Zidane but former national team boss Ottmar Hitzfeld likened him to a "young Schweinsteiger" instead.

Once nicknamed "Little Einstein" due to his passion for science, Xhaka is intelligent in possession, composed on the ball, and has an 85 per cent pass completion rate this season.

He's a leader and winner

Xhaka led Switzerland to U17 World Cup glory in Nigeria in 2009 and nearly repeated the feat at the Euro U21 finals in 2011, where they finished runners up.

The midfielder joined Borussia Monchengladbach from Basel in 2012 for £6.3 million but not before enjoying a remarkable last year in Switzerland when he won the double, lifting the league and cup.

Well done boys 1:1 against Munich #borussia #BMG #Xhaka #GX34

A photo posted by Granit Xhaka (@granitxhaka) on



Manchester United fans may also remember Xhaka from the Champions League last 16, when Basel knocked out Sir Alex Ferguson's Red Devils.

Xhaka has gone on to become Monchengladbach's skipper, which says a lot for the man considering his young age.

He wants to play in England

The Switzerland international has previously revealed his desire to play in the Premier League, and has been linked with Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City.

"I think everybody has a dream," he said. "Everybody has a childhood dream and that's my childhood dream.

"If my dream comes true, it remains to be seen. At the moment I cannot say how realistic it is.

"England is my dream. I do not hide it. Whether I'll be happy there, only the good Lord knows.

"For me money is not important. Otherwise I would not move from Basel to Monchengladbach in 2012. It's about being a big challenge for me as a footballer."

Arsenal are VERY keen

Arsenal have intensified their pursuit for the Swiss star and have watched him a staggering 30 times this season. Arsene Wenger has sent his scouts to make weekly checks on Xhaka and are now believed to be lining up a £30 million move.

He's not afraid to get stuck in

Xhaka is known as an all-round, box-to-box midfielder, with a robust style of play ideally suited to the Premier League.

And he won't shirk a tackle. Xhaka has picked up 11 yellow cards and three reds this season for Monchengladbach in all competitions. Think of him as a bit like Jack Wilshere, only more durable.

He used to get suspended... a lot!

Xhaka has matured over the past couple of seasons but he was known as a bit of a hot head. He's been sent off eight times in his career and averages around a booking every four games.

Now is the time for 'Gladbach to sell

Xhaka has a contract at Borussia Park until 2019, which contains a £22 million release clause. However, that doesn’t kick in until the summer of 2017.

Therefore, if 'Gladbach want to get full value for the player then this summer is the time to do it. A fee in excess of £30 million would be almost double their record sale, which took Marco Reus to Dortmund in 2012.

His girlfriend will fit right in


A photo posted by Granit Xhaka (@granitxhaka) on

What they say

"Xherdan Shaqiri is the best talent in Switzerland... after Xhaka” - Former Germany international Thorsten Fink

"I am convinced that he has a great career ahead of him. He is a leader, a player who is responsible and self-confident. He is an absolute top player, capable of playing for any top team in the world" - Former Switzerland coach Ottmar Hitzfeld

"Xhaka can succeed in the Premier League, but I think Bayern will be the next step in his career. He will be one of the best player in Europe, and he is also a very nice guy – polite and funny" - David Nienhaus, a German journalist

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