The Arsenal chapter of the saga that is Granit Xhaka appears to be coming to an end. Last month, of course, Xhaka, after deciding to walk off the pitch rather than do that same slow-jog-thats-really-a-walk that most players do, heard from the fans at the Emirates. What he heard was a release of a very large well of pent-up frustration, not just at Xhaka, although his play hasn’t been anywhere near good enough for a long time now, but also at the club itself.
The Emirates crowd took out all their frustrations at a season gone sideways on Xhaka, and he reacted in a way that I don’t agree with yet completely understand - he cupped his ear like he wanted to hear more, he started nodding and gesturing at the crowd like he was egging them on, and he finally told them to fuck off.
We’ve all talked about our reactions to this and we all have a position now, so I won’t rehash all that here. But in the aftermath of that incident, Xhaka was stripped of the captaincy, and he hasn’t played since, as Emery and the club try to figure out a way forward here.
As of yesterday, Emery seems to have figured out the way he wants to move forward, and that way probably does not include the Swiss international. He said
As a coach I have a responsibility for the team: we need a player like Granit Xhaka,” Emery said. “But also, I don’t know if he’s going to play [for us] again. I don’t know because, if he is available in his mind to continue helping us and continue defending the Arsenal shirt, I think time is giving us that solution. Then, if I decide he is in the group with us, if he is ready and 100% in his mind with the decision to help us – we have a solution.”
While that theoretically does leave the door open, it sounds very much like, in reality, the door has swung shut, and Xhaka has turned around and realized it was one of those movie theater doors that doesn’t have a handle on the outside, which means he can’t get back in.
And honestly, I’m fine with that. I don’t care much about the telling of the crowd to fuck off - he was frustrated, it was a moment of anger, and he could easily repair that relationship if he wanted to. I care, and I’m not upset, because Xhaka isn’t very good, and getting a not very good player out of the team is a net positive for Arsenal, no matter how it happened.