Arsene Wenger has spoken about Granit Xhaka’s scarce appearances on the pitch stating he is struggling to adapt to Arsenal’s style.
Xhaka was Arsenal’s early summer signing for £34 million, with Wenger signalling his intention to significantly strengthen the midfield. However, despite spending heavily on the midfielder, he has only twice been allowed to play a complete 90 minutes in the Premier League so far.
The reason for this is that the Swiss international still needs time to embed himself into the Gunners style of play and settle into life in north London.
“[Granit] needs to adapt, then we need to find the balance because he plays in a deeper-lying midfield position, and he passes through the lines,” said Arsene Wenger as reported by Arsenal’s official website.
“He needs to adapt to the way we play and the tactical pace of the English game. I am confident he will do very well.
“Yes [he is taking time to adapt] but that is part of the job.”
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The Swiss minfielder is used to being a regular feature and has also captained former club Borussia Mönchengladbach, but the midfielder has struggled to settle into the starting eleven regularly but has made important contributions in big games this season.
The Frenchman, while admitting Xhaka’s struggle has also admired his passing technique and has pushed the Swiss to challenge for a more regular role.
“Granit is more a deep playmaker I think than a box-to-box player,” Wenger added.
“He does not get in the final third of the opposition half a lot. He is more a guy who has a fantastic pass to play through the lines.
“He gets the ball from the defenders and finds the high midfield. His strength is what we call the ‘moderate-value pass’ – the passes that come from deep midfield to high midfield.
“People want you to buy players but when you buy them we only have 11 spaces and not 22, and they feel sorry for the 11 who do not play.
“You want them to compete and convince you that they can get in the team.”
The 24-year-old might not be the most dominant holding midfielder Wenger has at his disposal but he sure adds creativity, tenacity and depth to the team.
With recent struggles in the creativity department, Xhaka can provide the flair and creativity that might be required to break down a resilient AFC Bournemouth.
The upcoming home fixture should really be the perfect time to showcase the flashes of brilliance he demonstrated against Hull City and Nottingham Forest earlier this season. But with Aaron Ramsey back in the mix, Xhaka may have to remain patient with the upcoming EFL Cup tie against Southampton the more likely fixture he’ll start.