If reports are to be believed, Granit Xhaka’s temper seems to have spilled over into real life yesterday. Reports are surfacing that, while Xhaka was at Heathrow seeing off a friend, that friend was denied entry to his flight after arriving too late for boarding. According to an eyewitness, Xhaka “racially abused a staff member in German”, which apparently went down like this:
Xhaka's friend was denied entry to flight at Heathrow. Xhaka allegedly called BA employee "fucking white bitch" https://t.co/GHMo8JyJoZ #afc— Ed Malyon (@eaamalyon) January 24, 2017
That led to airport security and London police being called, and to Xhaka being questioned and released at a West London police station.
There is a lot about this situation we don’t know, so I will not speculate on what may or may not have happened, or whether it is something we need to be concerned about from a playing perspective - or, more accurately, from an additional-suspension-for-internal-discipline perspective.
As we wrote yesterday, Granit Xhaka is a good player with a temper problem. While that temper problem stays on the pitch, it’s annoying in games but that’s about it, because what happens on the pitch stays on the pitch and all that. Within the context of a sporting event, he is filling the “villain” role of the whole sports “heroes and villains” narrative quite well, and that’s a necessary part of things, both for Arsenal fans who debate whether he’s worth the investment and for opposing fans who have someone else in red and white they can focus their ire on.
The on-field and off-field parts of Xhaka aren’t necessarily correlated, but after incidents like this, the narrative certainly does head that way; the point I made yesterday about him not getting out of his own way sort of applies here as well.
We will continue to track the situation and update the story as it develops.