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Arsenal manager Unai Emery said he does not know if Granit Xhaka will play for the club again and revealed he has had discussions with the club about the possibility of him leaving in January.
Arsenal stripped Xhaka of the captaincy after he swore at fans when they jeered him off the pitch in the Gunners’ 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in October.
Per Goal’s Charles Watts, Emery said: “I don’t know if he’s going to play again. If he is available in his mind to continue helping us and continuing defending the Arsenal shirt, I think time gives us that solution.”
On whether Xhaka will be sold in January, the coach added:
“Yes, I asked [the club hierarchy] that question. The club knows the player’s decision at the moment and my idea about that situation and the circumstances.
“We are now a little weaker without him in that position because we have one less player in that position.
“[At the moment] I am not thinking about that [selling him] because we are in November and we are going to play a lot of matches in November and December. We cannot change him in that two months.”
Xhaka has not featured for the club since his acrimonious exit from the pitch in the Palace draw on October 27:
Sky Sports Premier League @SkySportsPL
Not a great afternoon for Granit Xhaka…
The Arsenal captain was jeered by his own fans as he was substituted, before reportedly swearing at the crowd and rejecting a handshake from Unai Emery! 😳
Read the Arsenal manager’s response here: https://t.co/i0Jq3l1qJN https://t.co/DRb3JXrXm9
The Swiss international put out a statement via Arsenal’s Twitter account, in which he explained he reacted to the crowd following weeks of abuse from some quarters:
The following is a message from Granit Xhaka… https://t.co/YG5lBKmQvi
Emery confirmed he would not be in the squad for their trip to Leicester City on Saturday, the fourth match he’ll have sat out in all competitions since the incident.
Fox Sports’ James Dodd gave his take on the decision to take the armband away from the midfielder and suggested a January exit could be on the cards:
James Dodd @JamesDoddFOX
Absolutely the correct call from the Arsenal hierarchy to strip Xhaka of the captaincy.
Get the impression he’ll probably be leaving the club in January if a deal can be done.
The international break gives the Gunners a two-week gap between their clash with Leicester and their next match against Southampton.
If Xhaka is still not ready to play, in what will be almost a month on from the incident, it seems unlikely he will feature for the club again, so parting with him in January would be best for all parties.
The 27-year-old can still be an asset if he does return to action, though, even if he’s no longer an automatic starter—which perhaps should have been the case anyway as his form had not warranted such a role.
Arsenal play nine fixtures between December 1 and January 1, so they’ll need as many of their senior players available as possible to cope with that run. Xhaka’s return could be of considerable help to Emery.
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