Granit Xhaka has warned Arsenal supporters that the “extreme hostility” directed at him damages team spirit but insisted he will prove he is a key member of Unai Emery’s squad moving forward.
The 27-year-old was stripped of the captaincy last week after telling fans to “f*** off” as he was jeered following his substitution in a 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace – also removing his shirt and cupping his ears.
Xhaka went on to issue an apology of sorts, explaining that ongoing social media abuse aimed at his family also led to his furious reaction, but Emery decided to remove him as skipper and has yet to select the Switzerland international in any of the four matches since the Palace incident.
Heading into the international break, Xhaka has further explained his outburst and what was going through his mind at the time.
“When my shirt number lit up on the fourth official’s panel and our own fans broke into gleeful jubilation, that hit me very hard and really upset me,” he told Swiss newspaper Blick.
“It was very hurtful and frustrating. I can’t understand a reaction like that even now, especially the vehemence of it and the extreme hostility directed against me.
Insulting and swearing at your own captain will cause upset and a bad atmosphere for the team you are actually supposed to be supporting, that makes no sense to me and weakens the team's spirit.Granit Xhaka
“Insulting and swearing at your own captain will cause upset and a bad atmosphere for the team you are actually supposed to be supporting, that makes no sense to me and weakens the team’s spirit.”
While Arsenal have offered counselling and other support to Xhaka privately, he has been dropped by Emery – who revealed last week it was his decision to sideline the former Borussia Monchengladbach man and that he may never play for the club again.
But Xhaka believes he is good enough to remain an integral part of the Arsenal team and will stay committed.
“I’ve been 100 per cent behind the club and my role as a player since I came here,” he added.
“I’m proud to be playing for this big club. I’ll continue to stay positive, give my all to an even greater extent and prove that I’m an important part of this great team.
“Last week in particular was a very special emotional experience for me but I’m doing very well again, I’ve trained well this week and am looking forward to my next assignments.”