Granit Xhaka has revealed that he almost left Arsenal after experiencing “pure hate” and “disrespect” from the club’s supporters.
In October 2019, the then-captain was booed off the pitch by supporters during a 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace. He tore off his shirt and stormed down the tunnel.
The incident led to the 29-year-old being stripped of the captaincy by Unai Emery, and replaced by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was himself stripped of the captaincy in December 2021.
He told The Players’ Tribune:
“I was done with Arsenal. Finished. There was a contract on the table from another club, and all I had to do was sign.”
Remembering the incident, he describes:
“When I close my eyes now, I can still see their faces. I can see their anger. It’s not that they don’t like me. No, it’s different. This is hate. Pure hate. I am really not exaggerating this.”
Xhaka revealed that his family attempted to persuade him to leave the club, but he changed his mind when Emery was replaced by Mikel Arteta later that season, who assured Xhaka that the midfielder was part of his plans.
“Mikel and I didn’t speak about my future again, because after six months I was happy. Today, I know I made the right decision, absolutely, because I’m still here.