Worst Signing of the Summer – Granit Xhaka Contract Extension
A mistake. A fear to delve into the unknown and the risk of stagnating. Indeed, Arsenal not only opting against selling Granit Xhaka but then re-signing him on another year’s worth of contract, goes down as the worst signing of the summer.
Watching on as Arsenal embarked on a total rejigging of the squad with a strong focus on bringing in youth – all signings under the age of 23 – and moving on ageing and inconsistent members of the squad – David Luiz, Willian etc – above all, felt exciting.
Having needed a face lift and a clenched fist punch on the reset button, Xhaka was certainly part of that. His departure, above all, would be the catalyst for a new outlook. Thomas Partey would become the senior midfielder in the squad and adding progression elsewhere in the squad (White, Lokonga) meant that Arsenal could do something new with their midfield. Take the plunge and see what could become of them as a Premier League side.
And it’s not even a great dive into the unknown. Xhaka is a good footballer. He is not a great one.
4 – Since the start of the 2016-17 season, no player has been sent off more often in the Premier League than Granit Xhaka (4, level with Fernandinho and David Luiz). Reckless. pic.twitter.com/oG2sscv9tD
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) August 28, 2021
There is nothing new to find out about Xhaka, either. Everything that he’s done over the past five seasons everyone is well aware of. Every fan could write up an individual thesis on all his strengths and weaknesses.
The last six months of last season were also the best he’s had for Arsenal. It won’t get any better than that.
Yes, £13m for him from Roma was pittance. But it was an opportunity to reshape the dynamic of the engine room, boost tempo and open a space in the squad for a more marquee arrival. A Bissouma, a Neves, whatever.
Instead Arsenal will stagnate. Not only that, they can continue doing so for even longer since the club saw fit to award the man who openly expressed a desire to leave with a new contract. Is that because he’s a leader? One whose head goes when his side are losing a football match?
It was downright stupid. The occasional strong performance won’t mask that. His limitations will still be Arsenal’s limitations. The ceiling of this midfield will still hinge on whether or not he has a good game.
His partnership with Partey can also be a good partnership. But that’s all it can be and what else could be we won’t know since he’s now here to stay until 2024 at the earliest.
Arsenal took the easy route. The wrong route. This is what we reward people for now.NEXT: Arsenal break club transfer record
Xhaka may be far from the biggest problem at Arsenal. The question that needed answering, however, was whether he is the solution. The answer to that is clear.