Xhaka in­creases doubt over fu­ture at Ar­se­nal

Cap­tain drops In­sta­gram pro­file show­ing club kit Emery urges fans to give Swiss sec­ond chance

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Football - By Ian Win­row

Ar­se­nal cap­tain Granit Xhaka has fu­elled fur­ther doubt over his fu­ture at the Emi­rates by chang­ing his In­sta­gram pro­file pic­ture from one in which he is sport­ing the club arm­band for one of him cap­tain­ing Switzer­land.

The mid­fielder had al­ready en­raged Ar­se­nal sup­port­ers with the an­gry way he re­acted to be­ing sub­sti­tuted last Sun­day in the

2-2 home draw with Crys­tal Palace, ges­tur­ing to­wards the stands when he was booed off, be­fore ap­pear­ing to swear at fans as he made his way down the tun­nel.

Xhaka has had an un­easy re­la­tion­ship with Ar­se­nal’s sup­port­ers and man­ager

Unai Emery (right) said the player’s ac­tions last Sun­day were wrong but in­sisted he had been badly af­fected by the in­ci­dent.

Emery con­firmed the 27-year-old would not be in­volved in tonight’s Carabao Cup tie at Liver­pool, with Me­sut Ozil set to re­turn.

Ar­se­nal have of­fered the player sup­port and Emery was at pains to point out Xhaka’s well-be­ing should be ad­dressed as a pri­or­ity be­fore con­sid­er­ing the cap­taincy or the pos­si­bil­ity of dis­ci­plinary ac­tion.

“When we make in­di­vid­ual mis­takes, we need to make apolo­gies for the cir­cum­stances,” said Emery. “I pre­fer to do that. We sug­gest to him to do it.

“But now, what is the re­sponse we are see­ing? It’s that he is dev­as­tated and he is very down. The first thing is to re­cover him, his feel­ings. We need our fam­ily, our friends, our sup­port­ers to sup­port us, like us.

“He is not feel­ing that with the sup­port­ers. But we are speak­ing with him to first be calm and be close with his fam­ily and be close with us.” Asked whether Xhaka would re­main cap­tain, Emery added: “We need to go step by step, step by step. First is to re­cover him, as a hu­man, as a player.

“And then we are go­ing to con­tinue speak­ing about how we can im­prove, how we can con­tinue in that way with him, with the team and with ev­ery­body.”

Emery in­sisted there was a way back for Xhaka, cit­ing the treat­ment of right-back Hec­tor Bel­lerin, who had been the tar­get of fans’ crit­i­cism in re­cent years be­fore find­ing him­self back in favour.

“My ideal fu­ture is to watch again Xhaka play­ing and ev­ery sup­porter sup­port­ing him,” said the Spa­niard.

“I was speak­ing with Hec­tor and he said to me that he re­ceived some crit­i­cism three years ago be­cause peo­ple weren’t happy with his per­for­mance and then he came back.

“The most im­por­tant thing is to keep mov­ing ahead, work­ing, im­prov­ing and show­ing to peo­ple that if one mo­ment they don’t like him, to work to change that sit­u­a­tion.”

Emery in­sists Xhaka was al­ways likely to miss the Liver­pool match as he ro­tates his squad. “David Luiz and Calum Cham­bers are not in­volved in the group. Pierre-em­er­ick Aubameyang isn’t in­volved in the group ei­ther.”

He con­firmed, though, that Ozil would re­turn to the match-day squad af­ter a six-game ab­sence and said the Ger­many in­ter­na­tional could even be handed the arm­band.

“It de­pends be­cause he’s one of the cap­tains,” added Emery. “I’m not think­ing ex­actly yet, but we are go­ing to de­cide the first XI and if he’s in the first XI. It de­pends on who else plays.”

Re­ac­tion: Granit Xhaka changed his In­sta­gram pic­ture af­ter be­ing jeered

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