Granit Xhaka decided to leave Arsenal this summer, joining Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen for a fee in the region of £21.5million, football.london understands
Granit Xhaka has lifted the lid on his decision to leave Arsenal for Bayer Leverkusen during the summer transfer window.
The Swiss international spent seven years in north London, enduring an up and down relationship with the fanbase before he became somewhat of a cult hero over the last 12 months. In fact, the 2022/23 campaign was Xhaka’s most impressive season in England, netting seven times in the Premier League whilst also providing a further seven assists.
During an interview with Keystone-SDA, via SRF, the 30-year-old said: “There was speculation everywhere that my wife was no longer happy in England. That is not at all true. The fact is that as a person I am always interested in new challenges.
“After seven years, the time has come for something completely new. The league is not new, but the club is. During the talks with Simon Rolfes (Leverkusen sporting director) and Xabi Alonso, I felt that the long-term project at Leverkusen was worthwhile and that it was 100% in line with me.”
When asked what convinced him to join Leverkusen specifically, Xhaka added: “This club has a big name in Germany and Europe. I’m convinced by the idea, I’m convinced by how the club is run. Good players have always played here. I like peace and order.
“With Alonso, there’s a manager who is responsible who represents and implements exactly these values. It stands for good and reasonable work. And of course: The length of the contract gives me security – I’m not someone who likes to play poker.”
The veteran midfielder also reminisced on his positive memories at the Emirates Stadium, heaping praise on current Gunners boss Mikel Arteta. “He’s a coach I respect immensely,” he added when quizzed on Arteta.
“A coach who understands an incredible amount of football. Someone who sees football with completely different eyes. I had a great relationship with him. Thanks in part to him, we achieved what was missing for years: the Champions League.”
Xhaka also singled out his final match in an Arsenal shirt, where he netted a brace in a 5-0 victory over Wolves on the final day of the season. He continued: “There are a lot of positive memories. Personally, I and my family spent seven wonderful years in London.
“I’ve never played for a foreign club for so long. My graduation here, my last game, all the news – wow, that gives me goose bumps.”