Granit Xhaka finds himself at something of a crossroads at Arsenal.
The 28-year-old Switzerland international is facing extra competition for a place in Mikel Arteta’s midfield after the deadline day capture of Thomas Partey.
His last Premier League appearance came as a makeshift centre-half in last month’s 1-0 defeat at home to Leicester, subsequently watching on from the bench as Partey put in an early statement performance for his new club in the 1-0 victory at Manchester United.
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The Gunners’ newest recruit received rave reviews for his individual display in midfield at Old Trafford, underlining why Arsenal paid his release clause with an early hint of what he’ll bring to Arsenal’s midfield – and what they were lacking before.
Partey’s ability to read the game, notably his positional awareness out of possession as he picked the right areas to disrupt United’s passing lanes in midfield stood out, alongside his physical ability to make tackles and win the ball – and the composure in his passing once he did.
Along with the new man, Mohamed Elneny has enjoyed an unlikely resurgence on his return from last season’s loan at Besiktas, pushing Xhaka down the pecking order.
Elneny and Partey appear to have established themselves as Arteta’s favoured central midfield pairing, while a recent report from The Athletic suggested the Spaniard and his technical staff wanted Chelsea’s Jorginho as well as Partey over the summer, which says a lot about how he views Xhaka.
That runs contrary to words from Arsenal’s coach last season, backing him after his flashpoint moment with the supporters, and calling upon him regularly last term.
“The way we want to play, if we get him on board he can be a tremendous player for the football club,” Arteta said after Xhaka…