We've covered a bunch of smoke regarding the possible transfer of Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka to Arsenal, going back as far as March 22. New developments in the last day or so have brought us back to discussing the 23-year-old Switzerland international.
There has been a good deal of back-and-forth about the Swiss midfielder, with initial reports suggesting a deal could already have been agreed but later reports suggesting a bid had yet to materialize. Recent reports have suggested Gladbach were requesting a fee of £35m but that Arsenal, in very very typical Arsenal fashion, were hoping to get him for less. Considering the player has been linked to other big-name clubs, some Arsenal fans found this to be frustrating.
Today, however, things took a different turn once again, and Arsenal might not be behaving like Arsenal at all. German journalist Raphael Honigstein tweeted a few really interesting tidbits about the possible transfer.
A change of tack from Wenger? After having earlier offer rebuffed, he's come back to pay full whack for Xhaka. (€50m, including add-ons)— Raphael Honigstein (@honigstein) May 11, 2016
Gladbach are trying to get a replacement signed before announcing the deal.— Raphael Honigstein (@honigstein) May 11, 2016
According to our own Fearless Leader Thomas Wachtel, "Honigstein isn’t traditionally the kind of journalist who dives deep into transfer rumors, but he is a good writer and a fairly reliable reporter in general. It’s tough to tell exactly how reliable he is on something like this, so take it with a grain of salt – but his words shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand, certainly."
There were further reports from other German outlets:
This would put the transfer in the neighborhood of £33-35m in pounds sterling ($49-51m in USD, in case anyone is wondering). According to knowledgeable observers of the German media, this paper (the Rheinische Post) is highly rated in terms of accuracy on Gladbach news. Our own Aidan Gibson provided some much-needed Google Translate for some of these quotes, including:
"I would like to know before the European Championship, where I play next year. It is always bitter when during an EM about anything think has" the Swiss international said on Wednesday after the morning session.
According to information our editorial the "Gunners" an official offer 43 million euros for the midfielder have submitted. . . . "I do not know if there is ever an offer. I [owe] four beautiful years in Mönchengladbach and the club a lot. If it is true what the media write, we sit down together and decide," Xhaka said.
The last season game at SV Darmstadt on Saturday (15:30) could also be Xhakas last game in a Borussia-shirt, it wants the 23-year-old but still know nothing. "It may be that it is my last game, but while I'm here, I will concentrate fully on the Borussia," Xhaka said.
It appears that Xhaka wishes for his fate to be decided prior to Euro 2016, which kicks off in just a few weeks on June 10, so we may know very soon whether we should be throwing our pants out the window in joy or biting them in half out of frustration. Much ink has been spilled about Arsenal's lack of a spine this year, and adding Xhaka (along with the earlier addition of Mohammed Elneny) could be a terrific early building block to shoring up that spine.
Xhaka played 2,735 minutes for Gladbach in all competitions this year, netting 3 goals and receiving 6 yellow cards and 3 reds. You may remember back in March that bozz described Xhaka thusly:
Xhaka has got everything you need to play at a club like Arsenal. He's a tackle and interception machine with an unbelievable work rate. He's an excellent passer who will only get better as he ages. His long-ball skills are already on point and he's excellent in the air. He reminds me of a younger version of Xabi Alonso. All that said, he's hotheaded, picking up a ton of cards and has had a problem with getting sent off.
In all, though, he's my dream signing in central midfield[.]
I don't know about you, but this is starting to feel like it's happening. It may be time for me to break out the "breathing into a bag" gif.