Mikel Arteta pays tribute to Granit Xhaka ahead of likely Arsenal farewell

Mikel Arteta pays tribute to Granit Xhaka ahead of likely Arsenal farewell

Mikel Arteta has hailed Granit Xhaka for playing a “crucial” role in Arsenal’s development to become title challengers.

Xhaka is set to leave Arsenal this summer after seven years at the club with talks advanced over a £13million move to Bayer Leverkusen.

Sunday’s match against Wolves at Emirates Stadium is set to be the 30-year-old’s last for the club and he had hoped his future would be resolved before then.

But when quizzed about it, Arteta said: “I cannot talk and I won’t talk about the future of any player. We have to wrap up the season and then we will plan the following season.”

The Arsenal boss did, however, sing Xhaka’s praises and reveal he has been pivotal in the Gunners growing to become title challengers this season.

“For me, crucial,” said Arteta. “Really really important, on every level. I think for the team and for the club as well. In the great moments like the season he has had, and in the difficult ones.

“We have become a better club and better people and we have understood certain situations much better than just judging them.

“I think the club and a lot of people have done really well to dig in there and understand what happened emotionally and why those reactions were happening. And having the courage to say okay, let’s turn around the situation and face it.

“There are going to be moments of doubt but if you believe in what you are doing and you go face-to-face and you say what you feel, normally things work out pretty well.

“Look at how he behaves. Not only him, we have some others that are absolutely a joy for those boys. The way they treat them.

“It is an honest and a unique willingness to help them. It is not an act. It is not because they think it is supposed to be their role. It is genuine. And that is what makes the difference.

“We have four or five in that dressing room who have been critical for those players to grow, to have the right support and to inspire them.

“And in the right moment to challenge them, to get them into the right direction when they are tempted to go somewhere else. You need that.”