Borussia Monchengladbach's sporting director Max Eberl has revealed that Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka came close to joining bitter rivals Stoke City - a full two years before he moved to the Emirates Stadium.
Former Potters manager Mark Hughes endured a nightmare run in the transfer market towards the back end of his Stoke tenure, with a number of high profile signings flopping upon their arrival at the-then Britannia Stadium.
But that could have panned out differently had Xhaka made the move to Stoke, after what had been a disappointing beginning to his Bundesliga career at Gladbach.
It's now been revealed by Eberl, in an interview with German outlet Rheinische Post (via The Sun) that the Swiss midfielder came close to being shipped out on loan, with a deal agreed for him to join Stoke. However, the plug was pulled on the move, after words of advice that he offered to Xhaka.
“Granit’s career in the first 18 months at Gladbach did not run [as smoothly] as sliced bread. He was almost ready to be loaned to Stoke and I told him, ‘If you go to Stoke now, you’ll never end up at a big club – but you could’.”
The Swiss star, of course, heeded the warning and in 2016 he secured a £35m move to Arsenal. Xhaka has had a number of critics during his time at the club, most notably for his poor disciplinary record. He has remained a key player under Unai Emery, though, and has thus far made 135 appearances for the club, despite being linked with moves away.
Now one of Emery's five on-field captains, Xhaka has become a key player in the heart of midfield, and is often one of the first names on Arsenal's teamsheet.
Stoke, meanwhile, never really recovered from the departure of midfielder Steven Nzonzi, often viewed as a key anchor in midfield, and they were relegated to the Championship in 2018.