Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has revealed that the animosity from fans at the club almost saw him quit the Gunners. The Switzerland international was speaking to the Players Tribune when he opened up on how close he was to leaving the Gunners.
The incident in question happened when he was booed after being substituted in a Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace back in 2019. Xhaka said:
"When I close my eyes now, I can still see their faces. I can see their anger. The passports were out. I was done with Arsenal. Finished. I had barely begun to move when I heard the boos. And it was not just a few guys in the corner - it was a lot of people. I was shocked. I had never experienced anything like this. This is hate. Pure hate. I am really not exaggerating this."
"To feel that level of hatred and disrespect - I wouldn't want it for my worst enemy. Still to this day, if we have lost, I hate walking those last metres to the tunnel because I still recognize the faces. The same people are sitting there. So now, I just keep my head down. I lived through that nightmare once. I don't ever want to do it again."
The game in question saw Arsenal throw away a two-goal lead to eventually draw 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
Xhaka was substituted for Bukayo Saka just past the hour mark to an echo of boos around the Emirates Stadium. The former Borussia Monchengladbach man in turn cupped his ears in response to the boos while also tossing his captain's armband to the floor in frustration.
The incident led to him being stripped of the captain's armband, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang taking his place as skipper of the side.
Granit Xhaka has rebounded to become a key player at Arsenal once again
Xhaka was seemingly close to an exit at Arsenal, with animosity from fans reaching a crescendo. However, he has turned things around at the Emirates Stadium and has become an integral part of Mikel Arteta's squad.
The 29-year-old has played a key role in the Gunners' push for a top-four finish this season. He has been a regular presence in the starting lineup this term except for when he was sidelined with a knee injury.
Xhaka signed a contract extension with Arsenal in 2021 that will see him remain in London until the summer of 2024.
Interested in sports other than Football? Click here