Granit Xhaka has promised to stay at Arsenal and win back respect after being stripped of the captaincy following an ugly altercation with fans.
There was an outcry that led to the 27-year-old midfielder being frozen out of the team, and he has not featured in the club’s three subsequent matches, including Saturday’s 2-0 away loss against Leicester City
Xhaka, however, has pledged to win back the confidence of the coach and the fans after a turbulent two-week period, in which Unai Emery suggested he might never play for the club again .
“You can be sure that I’ll keep fighting and putting myself out there in every training session. I feel that last week has been dealt with and I'm ready,” he told SonntagsBlick as he opened up about events for the first time.
“I’m doing very well again, I’ve trained well this week and am looking forward to my next assignments.”
The player, meanwhile, admitted the experience of being jeered as he was replaced was a hurtful one, while he urged fans to consider the overall impact such behaviour has for the club.
“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. 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.
“As far back as I can remember, fans have always been part of my sport. And right from the start I’ve had a lot of respect for the fans’ enthusiasm and the hardships they endure to support us players.
"Their criticism, when it’s fair, makes you grow as an athlete. And the power and energy that they contribute to the game makes every athlete love football even more.
“I feel like I’m part of a big football family. But at a time you are already experiencing a lot of hostility and your own football family insults you, it hurts a lot.
“I don’t mean to say that I can’t take criticism. If the team and I don’t play well, we have to listen and work on it. But 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.”
Xhaka’s next outing could be for Switzerland in Euro 2020 qualifying, with matches against Georgia at home and Gibraltar away looming over the next eight days.