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Granit Xhaka

Xhaka: Arsenal critics make me look like an idiot

13:36 GMT 23/03/2017
GranitXhaka - cropped
The Swiss has praised Arsene Wenger for sticking up for him during the difficult periods that he has had this season

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka says his critics in the British media have tried to make him look like "a foolish idiot".

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Xhaka swapped Borussia Monchengladbach for the Gunners in May after the clubs agreed a deal reported to be in the region of £35 million.

The 24-year-old has scored three goals in 33 appearances for Arsene Wenger's side, but he has already missed seven games of the season due to suspension, having been sent off twice already.

Comparisons made between Xhaka and Chelsea's £30m capture of N'Golo Kante have been used to sum up the ongoing malaise at Emirates Stadium, with Arsenal dumped out of the Champions League after a 10-2 defeat to Bayern Munich and facing an uphill battle to finish in the Premier League top four.

But Xhaka told 24 Heures: "What has really touched me is the source of the criticism and the form of it.

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"They were not from my club, but from former players who do not know me or Arsenal.


Da steckt Potential!

A post shared by Granit Xhaka (@granitxhaka) on Mar 22, 2017 at 1:00pm PDT

"People who know nothing about how I play have attacked me and made me out to be a foolish idiot!"

After Xhaka's second dismissal of the season against Burnley, for a rash tackle on Steven Defour, Wenger admitted the Swiss midfielder is "not naturally a great tackler", but hailed his other abilities.

"Arsene Wenger could not have given me a bigger confidence boost," Xhaka added. "After two weeks of working away from the team, he came to me and said: 'You will play.'"

"Such a sending off, depending on circumstances, could change a career. The coach could have just as easily kicked me while I was down."

Wenger is mulling over whether to sign an extended deal with Arsenal against a backdrop of infighting between the club's fans, who are split over whether the Frenchman's reign should extend further into its third decade, and Xhaka says the intense focus on club matters is a new phenomenon for him.

"What happens here, the daily agenda of Arsenal, is very different from what I experienced in Monchengladbach. They are almost two worlds apart," he commented.

"Three consecutive bad performances and hell is unleashed. The expectations are huge: winning the Premier League, winning the Champions League and winning the cups! If you cannot do it, then criticism does not miss you, and it happens everywhere."