Granit Xhaka’s move to Bayer Leverkusen is on the verge of completion, as the midfielder has been spotted in Germany ahead of his medical.
Arsenal are set to receive a fee of around £21.5m for the 30-year-old, and whilst they have already found his replacements in Kai Havertz and Declan Rice, they may feel Xhaka’s loss both on and off the pitch.
The Switzerland international has had a roller-coaster time at Arsenal, having suffered heavy criticism over the years, and looked set to leave in 2019 after losing the captain’s armband, but became a fan favourite with a stunning final campaign in North London.
Moving to a more advanced midfield role saw him notch up 16 goals and assists last season, and his absence was notable when he did not start in the middle.
Arsenal found themselves 2-0 down at home to Bournemouth, and 3-1 down at home to Southampton in the only two league games where he was not in the starting XI, and it may initially be tough for the new arrivals to replace his presence.
What did Xhaka bring to this Arsenal team?
The midfielder would start ahead of Thomas Partey and next to Martin Odegaard in Mikel Arteta’s current system, and his role allowed him to make more off-ball runs into the box, hence his sudden increase in output.
MORE ARSENAL STORIES
His defensive strength also gave Arsenal the perfect balance of steel and creativity in midfield, and this may be the toughest part of his role for Havertz to replicate.
Xhaka was also one of the most vocal leaders in the squad, and having captained three different clubs in the Champions League, he could have been a vital member of the squad next season, even if not as a starter.
His desire was to return to Germany, and Arteta has accepted that he will lose a key player, who overall made 297 appearances for the club since his arrival in 2016.