Mikel Arteta Thinks Granit Xhaka 'Is Going to Stay' at Arsenal Amid Exit Rumours

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2020

Arsenal's Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on January 1, 2020. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / IKIMAGES / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 45 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications. (Photo by IAN KINGTON/IKIMAGES/AFP via Getty Images)
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Mikel Arteta doesn't think Granit Xhaka is going anywhere during the January transfer window, despite rumours linking the Arsenal playmaker with Hertha Berlin.

Arteta's addressed speculation about Xhaka's future following the Gunners' 2-0 win over Manchester United in the Premier League on Wednesday:

Stating Xhaka has pledged to stay is significant, given recent rumours linking the Switzerland international with a return to the Bundesliga. Xhaka's agent, Jose Noguera, recently told Swiss publication Blick (h/t MailOnline's Tom Caldon) Hertha had agreed a contract with his client.

Noguera's assertion came in the wake of Arteta expressing a desire to keep Xhaka in north London, per Nick Ames of the Guardian. Arteta talked up Xhaka's importance, a sentiment he expressed again following the win over United:

Xhaka justified his manager's faith with an outstanding turn against the Red Devils. The former Borussia Monchengladbach ace dictated possession at the heart of the Arsenal engine room, forcing United players to chase shadows.

With his assured use of the ball, Xhaka gave the Gunners the hub of possession they missed during Sunday's 2-1 win at home to Chelsea. Arsenal took the lead against the Blues but were unable to keep it while being overrun during the second half.

Not having someone adept at keeping play ticking over meant Arsenal continually gave the ball back to the visitors. The importance of a player with Xhaka's skills was underlined by the effectiveness of Chelsea schemer Jorginho:

Xhaka and Jorginho are similar types of midfielder. They both operate best deep but are defined more by technique than defensive discipline.

Xhaka's aggression and lapses in concentration when tracking runners have often put him at odds with frustrated Arsenal fans. Tensions boiled over when Xhaka reacted negatively towards fans who jeered him when he was substituted during October's 2-2 home draw with Crystal Palace.

Although he later apologised, Xhaka lost the Arsenal captaincy because of the incident.

Arteta has offered Xhaka a fresh start and made the 27-year-old feel valued again. Granting him more freedom in the middle has helped, something Arteta has achieved by restoring Lucas Torreira to the holding role and relieving Xhaka of many of his defensive duties.

It's early days, but Arteta's approach is bringing the best out of a player who is essential to the kind of slick, possession-heavy game he wants the Gunners to play. Keeping Xhaka through the winter window will be key to the rest of Arsenal's season.

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