Arsenal are closing in on the signing of Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka, with it believed that the Swiss midfielder has already flown into London to complete his medical.
The fee for Xhaka looks to be in the region of £34m, a price tag which would make him the club’s second most expensive signing of all time, just ahead of Alexis Sanchez but behind Mesut Ozil.
But who is Xhaka and why are Arsenal investing so much money into bringing him to the club?
Where does he play?
Xhaka is a central midfielder who plays in a more defensive minded role but he can also feature as far forward as the no.10 position. The 23-year-old made 36 appearances for Monchengladbach in the 2015/16 campaign and is their captain, despite his young age.
If the Swiss international were to join the Gunners, expect him to feature in the holding two, likely alongside Santi Cazorla.
What are his strengths and weaknesses?
The midfielder is a very good interceptor of the ball, finds himself often well positioned and is a world-class distributor of the ball – be that short or long passing. Xhaka is also fantastic in the air and has a tenacity that fits the Premier League fantastically. However, that tenacity does come with its downfall, the midfield general has a terrible disciplinary record – being sent off on three occasions for his club in the 2015/16 campaign and picking up six yellow cards.
Another factor behind signing Xhaka that will be looked at as nothing but positive is his leadership quality. Despite being just 23, the Monchengladbach midfielder is a proper captain, while adding heaps of talent to the side, he’ll also be bringing that edge that the club have arguably missed for so long.
How experienced is he?
Xhaka, at only 23, has plenty of experience.
The midfielder has been capped by Switzerland on 40 occasions, played an impressive role in his nation’s 2014 World Cup journey and is set to play at Euro 2016 this summer, an opportunity for Arsenal supporters to get a good look at him.
Xhaka made his debut for Switzerland at just 17, in a friendly against England at Wembley Stadium. At Basel, the midfielder won the Swiss Super League twice, as well as the Swiss Cup once.
What’s his goalscoring record?
Everyone is concerned with goals. People want to know how many a player has scored before signing them. What supporters will immediately need to recognise is that Xhaka is not a goalscorer, nor is he a creator. He has scored just 12 times at club level, while scoring six for his country. The Swiss star, essentially, looks to be an upgrade on Leicester City midfielder N’Golo Kante.
He is the man who tidies up midfield, will distribute it to the more creative stars in the final third who then go on to assist or score goals.
What’s been said about him?
Xhaka has plenty of fans but many a warning has been fired to supporters about what to expect from the former Basel star.
Ottmar Hitzfeld (Switzerland head coach):
“I am convinced that he still has a great career ahead of him. He is a leader, a player who is responsible and self-confident.”
Raphael Honigstein (journalist):
“[Xhaka provides] presence, leadership, does everything really well. Definitely [an] upgrade on existing central midfielders.”
Stefan Bienkowski (journalist):
“Be warned Arsenal fans: Granit Xhaka has a temper. In 108 Bundesliga games he has 29 yellow cards and five red cards.”
Thorsten Fink (ex-Basel coach):
“Xherdan Shaqiri is the best talent in Switzerland…after Xhaka.”
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