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Mikel Arteta Hopes Granit Xhaka Stays at Arsenal Amid Hertha Berlin Rumours

Gill Clark@@gillclarkyFeatured Columnist IIDecember 29, 2019

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta of reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Emirates Stadium on December 29, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said on Sunday he hopes midfielder Granit Xhaka stays at the club amid speculation he could sign for Hertha Berlin in the January transfer window.

Arteta spoke to reporters about the Swiss midfielder's future and explained why he was not in the squad for the Gunners' 2-1 Premier League defeat to Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium.

"He played well at Bournemouth and after he started to feel ill and the last two days he's been in bed," he said. "I hope he doesn't leave."

Xhaka's agent, Jose Noguera, has told Blick that the midfielder has agreed terms with Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin and wants to depart when the transfer window reopens:

ESPN UK @ESPNUK

Arsenal fans, will you miss Granit Xhaka if he leaves? https://t.co/h3SioXtqWi

The midfielder's future at Arsenal has become uncertain after he reacted angrily to supporters when being substituted in October's 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace:

B/R Football @brfootball

Arsenal captain Granit Xhaka: —Cheered when subbed off —Booed because he was walking —Cupped his ear to the crowd —Took his shirt off and walked down the tunnel 😳 https://t.co/aGpmZXvwii

Xhaka took to social media to offer an explanation for his actions:

Arsenal @Arsenal

The following is a message from Granit Xhaka... https://t.co/YG5lBKmQvi

The Swiss star was subsequently stripped of the club captaincy by then-manager Unai Emery and returned to Arsenal action a month later in the 2-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt in the UEFA Europa League. 

Arteta has already praised Xhaka after taking over from Emery. He said the 27-year-old was a "terrific player" and explained he had "told him how much I like him and what I expect from him," per the Guardian's Nick Ames.

Yet Xhaka is reportedly angry with Arteta for telling him in private that he can leave the club despite the public praise, according to Blick (h/t Darren Wells at the Mirror).

Arteta's comments are unlikely to prevent speculation continuing about Xhaka's future, and if the Gunners were to receive an acceptable offer in January, it would be little surprise to see the midfielder move on.