Granit Xhaka (born 27 September 1992) is a Swiss professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for English club Arsenal and the Switzerland national team. Swiss national manager Ottmar Hitzfeld once dubbed him the “young Schweinsteiger”, while former Arsenal defender Johan Djourou has praised his tackling, versatility, and physicality.
The brothers started their youth football by Concordia Basel and both moved to Basel in 2002. Xhaka played for various Basel youth teams and since 2008 has been a member of the U-21 squad. Between 2008 and 2010 he played 37 games for the U-21 team, scoring eleven goals.
Former Basel coach Thorsten Fink once said. “Xherdan Shaqiri is the best talent in Switzerland…after Granit Xhaka.” Whilst the Swiss National Football Coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld, has dubbed him the ‘young Schweinsteiger.’
Since the beginning of the 2010–11 season, Xhaka played for the Basel first team. He made his first team debut in the third qualifying round of the 2010–11 UEFA Champions League in the away match against Debreceni VSC in the Szusza Ferenc Stadium. Towards the end of the game he scored the second goal in Basel’s 2–0 victory.
On 18 May 2012, Basel announced on their homepage that Xhaka had agreed terms with Lucien Favre’s Borussia Mönchengladbach. After medical checks were completed, the teenager signed a five-year deal with the club. The transfer fee was not disclosed by Mönchengladbach, but is estimated to be in the region of €8.5 million.
Xhaka made his debut in a DFB-Pokal first round match against Alemannia Aachen on 18 August 2012.
On 25 May 2016, Arsenal signed Granit Xhaka from Borussia Mönchengladbach for a fee of around £30–35 million. Xhaka made his first appearance for Arsenal, as a half time substitution, in a 2–1 win against the MLS All-Stars.
Xhaka made his competitive debut for Arsenal in the club’s opening match of the 2016–17 Premier League season, a 4–3 defeat to Liverpool, replacing midfielder Mohamed Elneny in the 65th minute while also picking up a yellow card in the process.
Before making his international debut for Switzerland, Xhaka was still undecided whether to play for his birth country or Albania, and he complained to the Albanian sports media that FSHF was ignoring him while the Swiss Football Association was showing much more interest.
Xhaka debuted for Switzerland at Wembley Stadium against England, in a 2–2 UEFA Euro 2012 qualification draw on 4 June 2011. On 15 November of the same year, during his sixth international appearance, he scored his first international goal in the 1–0 away win against Luxembourg in Stade Josy Basel.
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