Mikel Arteta has pointed out Granit Xhaka’s maturity on and off the pitch within the past year and is hopes he will continue to build that formidable partnership with Thomas Partey.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s game against Aston Villa, the boss accesses Xhaka’s input.
He replied: “I thought he was excellent against Wolves the other night, he’s been really consistent.
“He’s improving game-by-game and his partnership with Thomas is getting stronger. They haven’t played much together and that chemistry has to flourish. They make each other better and we have a good balance between left and right foot in those spaces.
“Then, his leadership level, as well. I think he has matured a lot as a player and he has a big importance in the dressing room. On the pitch, he’s doing things much, much better than before.”
When Xhaka got red carded versus Burnley, there were talks of indiscipline about the midfielder. However, he had bounced back since then and put in great performances.
“It’s not just the Burnley game [that he got abused for],” reflected the boss. “He’s had two big episodes, you know. You can maybe overcome one of those, I think the second time he really showed that he doesn’t want to go through that again.
“We’re here to try and support our players, the club was exceptional giving him all the support. We try to do the same, the teammates did the same. He’s gone through it again. He’s getting a lot of praise for the way he’s playing. It’s down to his character and how much he wants to succeed at the club.”
Xhakavs current contract expires in 2023 and talks about an extension is expected to kickstart in the near future. Mikel Arteta has hinted that the midfielder is part of his long term plan.
“He’s a really important player for us since I’ve been here,” he said. “He’s played almost every game and there’s no better way to show how much you like and value a player than by giving him minutes on the pitch.”