Granit Xhaka says he wouldn’t be the player Arsenal wanted if he gave up the physicality that has earned him three bookings and one red card since moving to London.
The Switzerland international signed for the Gunners with a ‘hard man’ reputation having earned five dismissals since 2013 and with the third most fouls (73) in last season’s Bundesliga to his name; a trend he’s continued at the Emirates.
Unrepentant about his apparent disciplinary ‘problems’ Xhaka told Bild Sport, “Yellow cards and red cards are part of what Granit Xhaka is. I’d no longer be the same player without my rigorousness, and certainly not the player Arsenal wanted.”
Despite a low-key ticking off from manager Arsene Wenger who has suggested that Xhaka should learn from recent indiscretions, the player obviously still holds the boss in high regard.
“He’s a quiet character, doesn’t talk to his players a lot, but he’s a gentleman like Hitzfeld,” he added.
“More than 20 years at one club. That speaks volumes. He’s a top coach and the absolute boss at the club, you feel that every day.”
Xhaka also touched on the quality of the Premier League and teammate Mesut Ozil with whom he’s building an on-pitch relationship.
“Arsenal is two notches bigger than Borussia Moenchengladbach, the opportunities at the training ground are enormous and we work even more intensively than in the Bundesliga, the pace is higher the game more physical.
“Before every training session we work in the gym, every week tests are made to see how fit you are, how tired you are, how you sleep. Sessions are shorter but more intense and every day is full on.”
He added: “Mesut has a quality that I personally have never experienced before.
“He has an absolute magic left foot, is fast – even if it does not look like that sometimes and he is one of the best in the world.”