Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has insisted he doesn’t need the captain’s armband he was stripped of nearly three years ago to be a leader within the Gunners squad.
Xhaka had been captain of Borussia Monchengladbach at the age of 22 and was handed the role at Arsenal by Unai Emery a few weeks into the 2019/20 season.
But only a few weeks later, his infamous reaction to jeers from fans upon being substituted in a game against Crystal Palace led to him losing the armband barely only sooner than he’d got it.
Having been determined to leave after that incident, Xhaka has since resurrected his Arsenal career and is adamant that he is still a leader.
“Of course, you don’t need [the captaincy to lead],” he told The Athletic, even suggesting that having a number of leaders beyond new skipper Martin Odegaard is of great benefit to the squad.
“Everyone can see the leaders in this team. Of course, you need a captain for the team when we need him. But I don’t believe a lot in the armband. At the moment I have a feeling that it’s not only one, but a lot of people who are so good in this team who can speak with and they will help you. This is what makes a big difference at the moment.”
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Xhaka has also reiterated that manager Mikel Arteta is the reason he has remained at the club.
“Arteta is the reason why I'm still at this football club. All of the club knows why I am still here, because three years ago I was gone,” the Swiss midfielder explained in separate comments.
“My suitcases were packed and finished, but I had a meeting with Mikel when he came – he wanted to hear my opinion about what had happened and I explained to him. I didn't speak with family, with nobody, and normally I don't do that. But I said, 'OK, Mikel – I will stay for you'. And I'm still here.”