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Former Arsenal defender and Granit Xhaka’s international teammate Johan Djourou has heaped praise on our new Swiss star, likening him to Juventus legend Andrea Pirlo, as reported by the Mirror.
We recently completed the £30m deal for Xhaka (via the Mirror), with Arsene Wenger getting some business done early for a change. There’s a lot of hype around the former Borussia Monchengladbach captain, but Djourou expects him to more than live up to it.
He praised his teammate’s ball playing skills, his tackling, and his vision, suggesting that he’d be a huge success at Arsenal.
“Granit is a great ball player. The guy has a magical left foot. He can ping the ball all over the place. He is a strong tackler – he is very hard going into tackles – and overall he is a very, very, very good player,” Djourou said.
“He can see a pass. He can tackle, he can assist. I would say, if I am being honest, there is a little bit of a Pirlo about him, just in terms of the precision that he plays the ball with. Granit can play those types of ball.
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“He can come and get the ball and ping it 40 yards onto your feet. He is that kind of player, but with more physicality to his game.
“It is hard to give a perfect description but I would say he has a bit of Pirlo about him.”
Djourou knows just how hard it is to succeed at Arsenal, but clearly thinks Xhaka has what it takes. The 29-year-old has plenty of experience playing with Xhaka, and believes he will slot in perfectly at Arsenal.
While pinging long balls isn’t exactly the Arsenal way, it’s certainly nice to have that option. When Santi Cazorla isn’t on the field we have nobody who can really offer us those accurate long passes, but Xhaka’s arrival definitely changes that. We don’t want to be consistently looking for the long ball and playing route one football the entire time, but if the opposition know you have that in your locker then they have to guard against both the long pass and the short.
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Hopefully the 23-year-old is as much of a success as Djourou believes he’ll be, and he hits the ground running when he takes to the field next season.