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HATRED ENDED BY ART TO ART; arsenal xhaka's gunners u-turn How chat with Arteta helped Xhaka win over the fans and stopped him quitting the Gunners and going back home.

Byline: DAVID ANDERSON @MirrorAnderson

GRANIT XHAKA has revealed how a chat with Mikel Arteta helped him overcome the "hatred" of some Arsenal fans and saved his Gunners career.

Xhaka's time in north London looked over when he swore at supporters for booing him and he was stripped of the captaincy by Unai Emery, Arteta's predecessor as manager.

The Switzerland midfielder almost returned to Germany to join Hertha Berlin before a heart-toheart with Arteta convinced him he could have a fresh start. Xhaka began Arsenal's 10 Premier League games before football's shutdown.

He said: "I think I have had a very good relationship and very good contact with all the coaches here at Arsenal.

"Everyone has their own character, their own philosophy and their own way of addressing things.

"With Mikel, however, something like a restart happened for me.

"I had very good conversations with him right from the start.

"He showed me what he expected of me, how much he needed me in the team and how he valued me as a player. It was very motivating and convincing for me." Xhaka, 27, admits he was shocked by the abuse he suffered from some fans when he was subbed against Crystal Palace at the Emirates in October after Arsenal had blown a twogoal lead.

He told them to "f*** off " and gestured at them (above, right) before taking off his shirt in anger as he left the pitch.

Xhaka says he liked being close to the fans at previous clubs Basel and Borussia Monchengladbach, and found this abuse extremely hard to stomach.

"Since I can think, the fans have been an integral part of my sport for me," he said. "I have a lot of respect for the dedication and hardships the supporters take to support us players. That's why it's normal for me to give something back.

"In England you are a bit more isolated. I miss that compared to the Bundesliga. I always had close contact with the fans, so I'm very open.

"As I said, there were always ups and downs here in England, but these whistles against me, this hatred, that was brand new for me and hit me a lot.

"Until then I had almost only positive experiences with the fans in Basel and Monchengladbach and also here. Then something like that hits you twice as hard."

Xhaka agreed terms with Hertha to join them on loan with a view to a permanent transfer before deciding he could not leave Arsenal.

"It's really no longer an issue for me," he told Sport1 in Germany. "Yes, there was contact and also an offer, but in the end I decided to stay here in London.

"After three-and-a-half years I did not want to cancel everything I had built up. "I am now concentrating on this with all my strength and motivation - and hope that we can get back on the pitch soon."

CAPTION(S):

Mikel Arteta's arrival began the healing process for Xhaka after his fall-out with fans new boss fresh start

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Author:DAVID ANDERSON @MirrorAnderson
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 30, 2020
Words:505
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