Granit Xhaka: From Arsenal Turbulence to European Championship Leader

Switzerland’s captain, Granit Xhaka, who was pivotal in Bayer Leverkusen’s Bundesliga triumph, is set to lead his national team with newfound maturity at the European Championship. Overcoming a tumultuous period at Arsenal, Xhaka's impressive performances and leadership have made him indispensable for both club and country.

Reuters | Updated: 03-06-2024 08:01 IST | Created: 03-06-2024 08:01 IST
Granit Xhaka: From Arsenal Turbulence to European Championship Leader
Granit Xhaka

Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka, who was instrumental in Bayer Leverkusen securing their first Bundesliga title this season, will have to dominate the midfield at the European Championship if his side are to excel in the late stages of the tournament.

Switzerland's most-capped player has emerged from seven turbulent years at Arsenal -- marked by him being stripped of the club captaincy and receiving a flurry of cards -- with a new-found poise that could drive his country at the Euros. The 31-year-old's reputation as hot-headed and impulsive has faded against the backdrop of his role in helping Leverkusen to clinch the German title and his growing maturity on the pitch.

"My mentality is completely different. I'm much calmer. Much, much calmer," Xhaka told The Athletic in December. "There's much more clarity and deliberation in my game." Leverkusen play through Xhaka more than any other team relies on a midfielder in the Bundesliga.

He is second in the league with a pass completion rate of 92.7%, recording 2,893 touches of the ball over the first 25 matchdays, and covers more distance than any other player in the German top flight. Leverkusen manager Xabi Alonso has nothing but praise for the midfielder as his side remained unbeaten in all competitions this season, with a German record-extending 51 games without loss, until they were beaten by Atalanta in the Europa League final.

"When we had a chance to start with Granit, we had no doubts because of his personality, his qualities, what he delivers, not just on the pitch but off the pitch as well," Alonso said in April. "He's a true leader... He has made us a better team, a much more mature team."

Switzerland, who have been solid in defence in recent friendlies, will rely on Xhaka's leadership as captain and his ability to change the pace and jump-start the attack against Group A opponents hosts Germany, Hungary and Scotland. The Swiss have featured at all but one major finals since 2004 and reached the Euro 2020 quarter-finals by beating world champions France.

Xhaka, who will be competing in his sixth major tournament at the Euros, should be in a rich vein of form coming off his league-winning club performances. "We want to play a good European Championship together and we as a team will do everything we can to ensure that we are successful in the end," Xhaka has told Swiss broadcaster SRF.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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