Granit Xhaka looks set to be omitted from Arsenal’s squad to face Chelsea as a potential move to Hertha Berlin looks all but wrapped up ahead of the January transfer window.
Mikel Arteta had his Gunners side training at the Emirates Stadium last night in preparation of Sunday’s match, but the Swiss midfielder was nowhere to be seen despite not carrying any known injury.
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Having been frozen out of the squad and stripped of the captaincy under former boss Unai Emery for his expletive-ridden reaction to boos from his own fans in October, Xhaka has since returned to the first-team fold and performed well under both Freddie Ljungberg and Arteta.
That upturn in form prompted Hertha to take note, with the Bundesliga outfit going as far as reaching an agreement with Xhaka that will see him move to the German capital. All that remains is for Arsenal to accept the offer.
They are standing firm, though, as Antonio Russo of Sky Sports Italy claim the Gunners are holding out for €40m for Xhaka, with Hertha having bid €35m so far. He also adds that Xhaka is ‘unlikely to play for the Gunners again’, with talks at an ‘advanced stage’. It will see the north Londoners recoup almost all the £35m they paid for Xhaka back in 2016.
There have been new updates which may have a bearing on Xhaka’s future, however. According to Bild, Hertha are set to secure the £8.5m signing of Santiago Ascacibar from VfB Stuttgart, who is also a holding midfielder.
The German outlet continue by adding that the club are still keen on Xhaka, who may be utilised in a more advanced position if he is to be lured away from north London. Ascacibar will slot into the number six role, freeing up room for Xhaka to slot in as a number eight. Bild also add that Xhaka is still keen on joining Hertha in January, as he looks to end his controversial spell with the Gunners.
Early indications would suggest that both players are on the German club’s radar, not just one, and the fact that Xhaka was not present at Arsenal training on Saturday evening hints that he is not in the right frame of mind to play, and will likely continue discussions with both clubs in what seems an inevitable departure.
His impending exit comes off the back of Arteta singing his praises upon taking the head coach position, but now it looks as if he will need to delve into the market for a replacement. It is thought the Gunners will need to sell players before they buy, so a decent transfer fee for Xhaka will hand Arteta more scope in the market.