Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta expects midfielder Granit Xhaka to remain at the club despite being linked with a move to Hertha Berlin this month.
The Swiss international impressed in the 2-0 Premier League win over Manchester United on Wednesday and earned plenty of applause from the Emirates crowd.
Little more than two months ago he was booed and became involved in an angry exchange with Arsenal fans after slowly walking off the pitch during the home clash with Crystal Palace.
Yet the arrival of Arteta has resulted in Xhaka enjoying an upturn in form and a new slate with the club. Although Hertha are chasing his services, Arsenal’s new manager has received assurances the former captain will stay.
“I think he will stay,” Arteta said. “He was very good. I really like him. The way we want to play, if we get him on board he can be a tremendous player for the football club.
“It is everything – his commitment, I like the way he is, the way he lives, his professional(ism), and the way he trains.
“How focused he is every time I am talking, he is listening and willing to learn and he is a great football player.
“The way we want to play, there are not as many with his quality on the ball and the way he eliminates passes, and the range of his pass. I am delighted to have him.”
A moment he’ll never forget 😍
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 2, 2020
Asked if Xhaka had told him he would not move away during this January transfer window, Arteta replied: “He did, yes.”
Former Everton midfielder Arteta is set to meet technical director Edu and Raul Sanllehi, head of football, on Thursday to discuss plans for this month including the return of young forward Eddie Nketiah from his loan with Leeds.
The 37-year-old will meet with the duo on the back of an excellent victory over United in which record signing Nicolas Pepe impressed with a goal after eight minutes before his corner led to Sokratis Papastathopoulos volleying home in the 43rd minute.
Arsenal’s dominance should have resulted in further goals, but the full time whistle blew with the Emirates faithful serenading their team following a positive display.
New boss Arteta added: “At the moment we are suffering a little bit to try to maintain that level of intensity we are playing in the first half. It will come.
“It is part of the process and the way we train. At the moment we don’t have much time to do so. As well I liked the resilience and I liked to see them suffer together.
“When they had to defend deeper I wanted to see that reaction. Instead of getting annoyed when someone gave the ball away, it was all positive reactions and everyone tracking back. I am pleased with that aspect of the game as well.”
Walking into 2020 like… 😎
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) January 1, 2020
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw his players struggle to create chances in London and was rocked before kick-off by news midfielder Paul Pogba will need surgery on his ankle.
The Frenchman only returned at the end of last month to feature off the bench in games with Watford and Newcastle.
He will now not play for the Red Devils again until February at the earliest after being advised to undergo surgery.
“We have had scans and it is nothing major. It is something that has to be sorted and dealt with, within a time frame,” Solskjaer said.
“He has been advised to do it as soon as and he probably will do it as soon as. He will be out for a three or four weeks probably.”