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Granit Xhaka, Eddie Nketiah named Swiss, England U-21 national team captains

The Arsenal players are away on international duty until early next week.

Ukraine v Switzerland -UEFA Nations league Photo by Stanislav Vedmid/Soccrates/Getty Images

Both Granit Xhaka and Eddie Nketiah have been named captain of their respective national teams — the full Swiss NT for Xhaka and England U21s for Nketiah. It’s the first time either will lead their country out for an international match.

Obviously, with the fluid U21 roster, the captaincy changes arms relatively frequently for the England youth side. For Switzerland, however, it’s a more lasting appointment for Xhaka that comes with Stephan Lichtsteiner retiring from football.

It’s clear that Granit Xhaka is a leader. Both Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta have said as much to the media. The Arsenal dressing room voted him team captain, and he wore the armband for the Gunners until he had it stripped following his choice words for a group of Arsenal fans harassing him as he came off the pitch last November. Since being near to leaving the club, Xhaka has worked his way back into the Arsenal side. In the friendly against MK Dons, when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was substituted off, he gave the armband to Xhaka.

Nketiah credits Arteta for helping him improve his game and take big steps forward. “He does a lot of tactical work about understanding your role,” said Nketiah, “he’s helped my all-round game, given me chances to express myself, make mistakes and try to correct them. I’m learning on the job.”

Congrats to Eddie and Granit!