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SPORTS

Arsenal midfielder Xhaka opens up on fans’ hatred

PREMIER LEAGUE By Mirror | April 29th 2020
Premier League - Arsenal v Brighton & Hove Albion - Emirates Stadium, London, Britain - December 5, 2019 Arsenal's Granit Xhaka looks dejected after the match [REUTERS/Eddie Keogh]

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka says he is only looking forwards, after putting issues with the club’s supporters firmly behind him.

The Swiss star looked set for an Emirates exit after reacting angrily towards supporters as he was substituted during their 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace at the Emirates in October.

Amid jeers from home fans, Xhaka let rip, telling them to "f*** off" before heading straight down the tunnel.

He was subsequently stripped of the captaincy by former manager Unai Emery, fined and dropped from the lineup.

Xhaka received abuse online and his future was in serious question.

However, the return to the club of Mikel Arteta, replacing Emery, saw Xhaka become one of the first names on the team sheet once more.

After a heart-to-heart with the Spaniard, the 27 year-old elected to remain and lead the club into a new era under the new boss.

Speaking of the situation against Palace and what followed, one of the darkest periods of his career according to Xhaka, he told Sport1: “These whistles against me, this hatred, that was brand new for me.

“What happened happened. You cannot undo it. Maybe it was a misunderstanding and both sides overreacted to some extent.

“But that's done for me, you have to look ahead now, motivate yourself positively in the current situation and don't get caught up in the negative.

“As I wrote in my statement back then: As a team, the club and the fans, we should work together hand in hand towards the next game and the challenges ahead with mutual respect and in memory of what makes us love this game.”

Hertha Berlin were keen to take Xhaka back to the Bundesliga earlier this year, during Jurgen Klinsmann’s ill-fated stint in the German capital.

By then, Arteta was already in situ at the Emirates and Xhaka had already begun repairing relations with supporters.

He admits that, despite interest from Hertha, he had already decided to stay in North London.

“It was really no longer an issue for me," he added. “Yes, there was contact and also an offer, but in the end I decided to stay here in London.

‘After three and a half years I did not cancel everything that I had built up.

“I am now concentrating on this with all my strength and motivation and hope that we can get back on the pitch soon.”

 

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