According to Chisanga Malata of the Daily Star, the Gunners are keen on the Switzerland international, who has been hugely impressive with his box-to-box playing style in the Bundesliga this season. And the 23-year-old has dropped something of a hint that the Emirates Stadium might be his preferred destination if he was to leave Borussia Park.
“That was my first professional number at Basel,” said Xhaka of the aforementioned jersey, per Tor Fabrik (h/t Vaishali Bhardwaj of the London Evening Standard). “It’s even tattooed on my back. I would also like to wear it in the future. It was also here in Gladbach, with Amin Younes. And at Arsenal Coquelin has it. I've spoken with him, he would like to take another number!”
In the same report, the Switzerland international reveals it is one of his main ambitions to play in the Premier League. “I have a childhood dream, that is the Premier League," he added. "Whether I play two or a hundred games in England, I would like to eventually make this childhood dream come true.”
Here’s a look at why there is so much excitement about Xhaka, who has been one of the standout midfielders in the Bundesliga this term:
BMG’s sporting director, Max Eberl, has conceded the Swiss could well be on the move in the summer, too. “In the summer perhaps Granit Xhaka will go,” he told Bild (h/t Malata). “We need a good mix between buying and selling to take the next step.”
Although Xhaka talks of taking Coquelin’s jersey, the prospect of the two setting up in tandem at the base of the Arsenal midfield is a fearsome one.
The Frenchman has added a defensive steeliness to this Gunners team since manager Arsene Wenger handed him a chance. Xhaka also possesses a similar kind of fortitude, but he is more capable in carrying the ball through the middle of the field, picking passes and thundering shots off at goal.
Sport Witness think he’s a player all the top clubs should be chasing at this point:
Everyone should want to buy Granit Xhaka. And Andriy Yarmolenko.— Sport Witness (@Sport_Witness) January 7, 2016
In Arsenal’s best XI, Santi Cazorla would typically play alongside Coquelin in the double-pivot midfield. But with the intricate Spaniard ageing, the Gunners will need to start looking at other, long-term options to replace him.
Xhaka would be a different kind of player, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing. What Arsenal have so often lacked in this area of the pitch in big games through the years is bite, power and industry. Cazorla has been able to offset that with his wizardry in possession of the ball, but Xhaka would beef up this vital facet.
One area the Swiss would need to improve on before moving to the Premier League is his discipline. As we can see here, courtesy of OptaFranz, he does having a penchant for losing his head:
5 - Granit Xhaka is the youngest player ever to concede 5 Red Cards in the Bundesliga (23 years, 2 months, 23 days). Blackout.— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) December 20, 2015
Would Xhaka be a good signing for Arsenal?
That’s obviously a temper that would need to be quelled if he is to ever make it at an elite side, but Xhaka is still young; he's still striving to make decisive contributions and is often happy to pick up cautions for the greater good in games. At a side like Arsenal, who keep the ball much better than Monchengladbach, last-ditch challenges wouldn't be needed quite as often either.
Given his multiple qualities, if the Bundesliga side were to cash in on their prized asset in the summer, then there’d be plenty in the race for his signature. Encouragingly for the Gunners, he already seems to have his eye on a possible spot in the side at the Emirates.