Former Arsenal star Granit Xhaka has disclosed the true reason behind his departure from the club to join Bayer Leverkusen this summer.
The Swiss midfielder ended his seven-year tenure with the Gunners, a period marked by both lows and highs. In his final season, Xhaka played a pivotal role in the midfield under manager Mikel Arteta, occupying a more advanced position and contributing to Arsenal’s challenge for the Premier League title against Manchester City.
Xhaka’s departure disappointed Arsenal fans, a stark contrast to an incident less than four years earlier when they had jeered him as he left the pitch after being substituted during a match against Crystal Palace.
The Gunners acted quickly in the transfer market to replace Xhaka with Kai Havertz, who scored his first goal for the club from the penalty spot on Saturday against Bournemouth.
Now, Xhaka has opened up on why he left the Emirates Stadium when he did – and discussed life at his new club.
Granit Xhaka opens up on Arsenal exit
Speaking to NZZ Am Sonntag, Xhaka explained (quotes viaTribuna): “I felt my time at Arsenal was over for me after seven years in London. I came here as an expericned player and person.
“It was sometimes written that I was coming back to Germany because of my wife. That’s not the truth. Like me, she was very happy in London.
“I made the decision solely as a footballer and athlete. I came to a top club in Germany that has a plan and wants to achieve something.”
He went on to add: “You can only see what it’s really like if you can train here every day and be there.
“You can work in peace at Bayer Leverkusen, there is no chaos, other clubs are more in focus. This is an advantage.
“At Arsenal, the pressure is different. But we have high ambitions because we know that we can have enormous potential in the team.
“If we keep working like this and keep our feet on the ground, we can achieve something.”
Leverkusen are currently leading the Bundesliga table under the management of Liverpool and Real Madrid icon Xabi Alonso. They have won five of their six matches this season, including a 3-0 win at Mainz on Saturday.
Xhaka has started every game since his arrival at the club in the summer, and has already established himself as an important player and leader.