Why Granit Xhaka to Newcastle United could be a masterstroke
According to claims from The Times, as relayed by The Guardian, Newcastle United have been linked with a January swoop for Arsenal star Granit Xhaka, who looks set for an exit from the Emirates during the mid-season trading period.
Xhaka, who has come under widespread scrutiny after his row with the home fans in Arsenal’s 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace, currently finds himself lost in the cold after falling out with manager Unai Emery (h/t The Telegraph).
Stripped off the club’s captaincy and sidelined from the playing XI, Xhaka’s scenario in North London is far from ideal. There are absolutely no guarantees over when, or if, the 27-year-old would return to the team.
The central midfielder was a notable absentee in the Gunners’ 1-1 draw against Wolves in the Premier League last week while he was also overlooked for the EFL Cup tie against Liverpool, as well as for the trip to Vitoria in the Europa League.
As per the report, Xhaka is concerned that his constant snub from the playing XI at Arsenal could jeopardise his chances of retaining his starting role for Switzerland, with Euro 2020 knocking on the door.
The Swiss international still has a contract at Arsenal until 2023 but if his current unhealthy situation is anything to go by, a January exit looks very much an inevitability.
The 27-year-old’s deteriorating relationship with the Gunners’ faithful has already resulted in a drastic fall from grace. It is hard to see a player of his stature constantly warming the benches, unless, of course, Emery decides to reinstate him in the side.
However, it remains to be seen whether a move to Tyneside would really appeal to the Swiss international, given Newcastle’s fall from grace to a relegation-threatened outfit in the Premier League in recent years.
To put things into perspective, Newcastle’s interest in Granit Xhaka looks a bit bizarre on paper but few would dare to argue that such a move could arguably mark one of the biggest marquee acquisitions for the Magpies in recent times.
In Sean Longstaff and Matty Longstaff, Newcastle have two quality up and coming central midfielders in their ranks while Isaac Hayden has been a consistent performer over the past twelve months.
However, with Ki Sung-yueng only playing a bit-part role, Jonjo Shelvey struggling for consistency and Sean Longstaff continuing to attract interest from Man United (h/t Express), it is a no-brainer that Xhaka’s arrival would be a massive coup for the Magpies.
Looking at the tactical side of things, Hayden (3.1 tackles, 1.9 interceptions) and Sean Longstaff (1.5 tackles, 1.1 interceptions) have put in some gritty and tough-tackling displays in the middle of the park to thwart the opposition.
Newcastle need a top-quality player with experience in the middle of the park to control and dictate proceedings. And Granit Xhaka certainly fits the bill in that regard.
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Thus, the acquisition of Granit Xhaka would go a long way towards transforming them into a competitive force in the Premier League.