Granit Xhaka has now made an honest claim about his transfer away from Arsenal this summer after joining Bayer Leverkusen to end a seven-year stint at Emirates Stadium.

The 30-year-old moved back to the German Bundesliga earlier on in July. Bayer Leverkusen paid Arsenal £21.5m to sign Xhaka, who also agreed to a five-year contract. He had one year remaining on his deal in north London but effectively waved goodbye at the end of the term.

Xhaka took a moment to bid farewell to the Emirates Stadium faithful following Arsenal’s win over Wolverhampton Wanderers. He also scored twice over the opening 14 minutes at home to Wolves to help toward a 5-0 win. The brace moved Xhaka to seven goals for the season.

Arsenal FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
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Xhaka left Arsenal on a high after seven seasons in England

Never since Arsene Wenger paid Borussia Monchengladbach £35m in May 2016 for Arsenal to sign Xhaka had the Switzerland captain scored more goals in a Premier League term. His previous best haul of four goals came in 2018/19. But Mikel Arteta got Xhaka scoring again.

Arteta also got Xhaka creating again as the midfielder matched his previous single-term best of seven assists offered in 2017/18. Only Bukayo Saka (11), Leandro Trossard (10) and Martin Odegaard (8) registered more assists than Xhaka for Arsenal during the 2022/23 campaign.

Arsenal FC v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
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Xhaka now opens up on his transfer to Bayer Leverkusen

Despite Arsenal signing Kai Havertz and Declan Rice this summer, Xhaka has now noted that Arteta and sporting director Edu did not want him to seal a transfer to Bayer Leverkusen. He also found it hard to say goodbye after seven seasons but wanted to enjoy a new challenge.

That challenge was never going to be in the Premier League, though. While Xhaka felt it was the right time to leave Arsenal, he was never going to join a team who compete with Arteta’s side. Arsenal have not faced Bayer Leverkusen in a competitive fixture since February 2002.

“I spent seven magnificent years at Arsenal, [so] I didn’t want to play against them,” Xhaka told Marca. “It wasn’t easy for me to leave or for the club to let me go. I felt love and respect from Edu and Arteta but I wanted to face a new challenge at Bayer Leverkusen.”

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