Granit Xhaka’s future at Arsenal – let alone his position as captain of the football club – remains in major doubt after his foul-mouthed outburst towards Gunners fans during Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
The Swiss midfielder, who was left out of Unai Emery’s squad for their enthralling defeat to Liverpool in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday night, issued a statement on Thursday night explaining his actions.
Emery has revealed that the player is ‘devastated’ and appears to have taken Xhaka out of the firing line after the regrettable incident.
Xhaka was sarcastically cheered when he was substituted on the hour-mark at the Emirates, and then booed when he slowly walked off the pitch.
Incensed by the reaction to his removal he responded by cupping his ear to the crowd, telling supporters to ‘f**k off’, before angrily stripping off his shirt and storming straight down the tunnel.
His actions have prompted fury from supporters, although the reaction from the wider football world has been more mixed, with some criticising fans for the initial booing and hounding of their own player.
The Times report Xhaka’s team-mates want him to continue in his role, having voted for him to be given the armband in the first place, while Arsenal legend David Seaman told talkSPORT Xhaka must apologise to the fans.
Therefore, Xhaka’s future well and truly remains up in the air, and talkSPORT.com has looked at four alternatives who could fill the void of the 27-year-old should he depart in the new year.
The Atletico Madrid man is exactly the type of midfielder Arsenal are craving for – an energetic powerhouse capable of both breaking up attacks and starting them.
The 25-year-old defensive player remains an integral part of Diego Simeone’s plans, scoring two goals in 13 appearances already this season.
It’s his determination which undoubtedly make him one of the best in his position in world football and he looks like a perfect fit for the Premier League.
Partey’s father, Hon Adjiingo, revealed over the summer that his son was keen on a move to England amid interest from Arsenal and Manchester United.
While the Ghanian is tied down at the Wanda Metropolitano until 2023, he has a modest release clause of just £43.5million – especially considering the quality he possesses.
The player himself has also refused to rule out a move away from Atletico, admitting in an interview in the close season that he didn’t know what the future holds for him.
Simeone has already lost two of his defensive rocks – Diego Godin and Lucas Hernandez – in recent seasons and will not want to lose another anytime soon.
Veretout has been one of the Serie A’s most consistent midfielders over the last couple of seasons, establishing himself as one of Fiorentina’s best players during that time.
The 26-year-old, who is currently on loan at Serie A rivals Roma, made 33 appearances in 2018/19 scoring five times and contributing three assists.
The Frenchman is not afraid to get stuck in and also boasts a good passing range.
Consistency is one of Veretout’s real strong points – at club level he has made at least 33 league appearances in four of his last five seasons.
It’s also worth noting that only Juventus star Miralem Pjanic created more chances from midfield than Veretout last season – an impressive feat to say the least.
Veretout is no stranger to the Premier League, having been on Aston Villa’s books from 2015 to 2017.
A potential deal for the midfielder would prove complex though, as the Serie A side have an obligation to buy Veretout for £13.8m.
With that said a deal isn’t impossible, but judging by the fact Roma recently declined the opportunity to sign former Everton prodigy Jack Rodwell – leaving Veretout as their only fit and recognised midfielder right now – this deal is somewhat less likely than the others on this list.
With the former Liverpool midfielder reportedly ready to leave Juventus in January, a return to the Premier League could be an exciting prospect for the 25-year-old.
Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain are also closely monitoring Can, who has grown increasingly frustrated with his situation at the Allianz Stadium.
Gunners fans would love to see Can donning the club’s colours, taking to social media on several occasions this season to express their admiration for him.
Arsenal need a solid base and alongside Matteo Guendouzi, Can could well provide that.
While he offers the same physical presence as Xhaka, he is nowhere near as reckless as the Gunners skipper.
He also has excellent technical ability and is capable of producing the spectacular from long distance.
His versatility and ability with the ball makes him the all-round midfielder, and someone Arsenal should definitely considering signing – if the opportunity arises.
At just 22, the midfielder is attracting plenty of interest after an impressive start to the Bundesliga campaign for Gladbach.
Zakaria, who plays alongside Xhaka for Switzerland, has played every minute of every game this season.
While he is under contract until the summer of 2022, interest in his services is mounting with officials from Arsenal and Liverpool already reportedly holding talks with Zakaria’s representatives – as per Sky Deutschland.
Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are also circling, with Atletico Madrid and Inter Milan also monitoring the youngster.
Zakaria’s powerful and directing running style would certainly appeal to Emery as he looks to bolster his ranks in midfield.
He’s also been likened to Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira and Manchester United’s Paul Pogba – underlining the quality that he possesses in abundance.
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