Interview

Xhaka The love I feel is very good

Granit Xhaka is a man happy at work right now.

The midfielder is currently working hard with the squad during our pre-season tour to America, with full focus on preparing for the new campaign.

The most experienced member of the squad in terms of first-team appearances, Granit is one of the leaders in the dressing room, and has spent the last few weeks helping the new players settle into life at Arsenal.

It’s a role he relishes, and as his relationship with the manager continues to evolve too, so does his influence.

Another relationship that’s growing by the week, is the one with the supporters. Granit spoke at length about his connection with the Emirates faithful in a Players’ Tribune piece last season. Since then the midfielder says he is feeling ‘much more love’ from his people.

Granit Xhaka pre-season

We caught up with Granit at the training camp in Orlando and asked him about the tour so far, the new arrivals, the supporters, the forthcoming season and much more…

on enjoying the tour so far…
(It’s been) so good, so far so good. Of course we are here for work. We are here for a pre-season to be ready for the start of the season. It's very hot. It's not so easy to work as well, but we are doing our best. The team is doing well. The staff we have here as well, and I'm very happy at the moment.

on playing the Everton game…
First of all, for me it's not a friendly game. These games give us a lot of confidence. Every clean sheet, every score from the individual players, every win, we can take that with us for the next couple of weeks before we start. These games have to give us a lot of confidence, the wins and in my opinion we did a great game for a lot of minutes and we have to keep going and working and believe in ourselves.

on summing up last season…
Yeah, in the end we didn't achieve what we wanted. We had everything in our hands. That's why we were very, very disappointed of course but it's over, we can't change anything, what we can change is the future and the future started in the pre-season. We have new signings as well, they're doing a very, very good job already, very good with their teammates, very open, very humble. They know what they want and we try to help them and I'm looking forward to start the season.

on his goal against Manchester United…
Yeah, after what happened, everything between the fans, the people and me I think this was one of the nicest moments since I'm in this football club. After scoring as well, the feedback, the moment in the stadium, I felt very, very good, very happy. But as well, happy for the three points we got on this on this day.

00:49

Xhaka blasts in our third goal

on his relationship with the supporters now after his feature last season…
Very good, I always wanted to turn things around to be good with them. I always respected the people. There was a moment where both of us maybe were misunderstanding each other but this is over for me. I feel much, much more love from the people outside and my job is to give them something back on the pitch. They know how I am. I give every time 100 per cent for this football club, sometimes well, sometimes less, but the love I feel at the moment is very, very good.

on why it was important to get his message out…
Yeah I did this one in my body, inside. Since maybe longer than two years (ago), but as well for the future. I am nearly 30 now, in September. I have nothing to do only with myself, but also for the future for the young players we have here, (who are) 19, 20, 21 years old. I hope nobody will (share) this experience that I had, and to tell the fans as well that it’s not that easy. It’s not the best way to do something against a player, and maybe this message came across as well. To support us - how do I say it - every one of us gives everything to this football club. Sometimes it’s going well, sometimes less. But to support us to help us, to be with us. Because what we want is for this football club to achieve as much as possible. Everyone from us, who is from this football team wants this.

on how important his relationship with Mikel Arteta has been over the last few seasons…
I mean it’s not possible to describe in words, and to say thank you to him. Because, how you say it - he was always supporting me. I tried always to give him as well, something back. Yeah, how do I say it - nearly 30, it’s my seventh season now for this football club. I feel very, very happy, and feel like I’m at home here as well. Not only to Mikel, but to the teammates to the staff, to the club. I want to give them something back. I try that day-by-day, and of course when you have people around to support you, to help you to try to be with you. It’s much easier to do that.

Granit Xhaka in pre-season training

on his relationship off the pitch with the manager…
Very good. Very honest, very open. This is how I am myself as well, and he is the same. He wants to have that clarity, and yeah how do I say it - I have a very very open, always open conversation with the coach.

on the role he plays helping players integrate…
I think it’s not only me, but the players have a lot of experience. Of course the coach, he is there with us in the dressing room, on the pitch. Sometimes he’s not there as well, so it’s our job as experienced players to get the team together. To get them something that we have to believe in ourselves because we have a very young squad. But the youngsters they are listening to us, they are trying as well the words that we give to them to take it, to improve, and have the feeling that we are in a very, very good way.

on hopes for this season…
The signings that we did give us something more than winning, they give us the mentality of how to win and the quality, of course. It’s like a puzzle, you need the quality, of course, but if it doesn’t fit in with the team, it’s very difficult to achieve something. The signings all fit very well in the team, year by year we get much better and it’s easier to speak than to do it, for sure, but I have a very good feeling that we will be ready for the start against Crystal Palace away and let’s see and hope that we can achieve the goals that we have.

on the World Cup being in the middle of the season…
Of course, it will be something special, the World Cup. But if I’m honest, I’m not thinking one second about the World Cup, because it’s still another four or five months to go. My focus is totally here and then when the time comes for the World Cup, of course it’s different, but maybe it’s not so bad for us Premier League players because end of the season I think we are more tired than other leagues because we have so many games, but let’s see. It’s very special, the World Cup in winter, for the first time and I’m looking forward to that.

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