Arsenal tried to keep him says Watts

Arsenal tried to keep him says Watts

Mikel Arteta tried to keep Granit Xhaka at Arsenal last summer but was unable to do so, though it’s not necessarily the biggest mistake to have let him leave, according to Charles Watts.

Speaking exclusively to CaughtOffside for his latest Daily Briefing column, Watts discussed the idea that Arsenal let Xhaka go to soon, with the Switzerland international now enjoying a superb Euro 2024 after also enjoying an incredible season with Bayer Leverkusen.

Many Arsenal fans will surely question why such a top player was allowed to move on, but Watts says it was simply down to Xhaka himself as Arteta was able to persuade him to stay a year earlier, but not on this occasion.

In truth, when a player has decided he wants to go, there seems little point in pushing too hard for him to stay where he is, while Watts also points out that AFC got a decent deal for him as he was sold for £21.5m when he had just a year left on his contract.

Xhaka transfer decision discussed by Arsenal expert

Granit Xhaka in action for Switzerland

“Granit Xhaka is deservedly getting the plaudits for his fantastic performances for Switzerland at the Euros. He’s been absolutely superb, just as he was for Beyer Leverkusen during their remarkable season in Germany in 2023/24,” Watts said.

“Obviously people are looking at how he has been performing since leaving Arsenal and question whether the club made a mistake in letting him go.

“Ideally, Arteta would have liked Xhaka to have stayed at Arsenal, but Xhaka wanted to go. Arteta had managed to convince him to stay with the club 12 months earlier when the Swiss International was again pushing for a move. But he was unable to do the same in 2023.

“Xhaka only had a year left on his contract and made it clear to Arsenal during the final few months of the 2022/23 campaign that he wanted a new challenge. Arsenal could have kept him of course, but then they would have lost him for nothing in the summer of 2024. So they had to let him go really.

“It was just about trying to get the best deal possible for him, which I think they did when you take into account his age and contract status. A fee of £21.5 million was pretty decent.”

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