Mikel Arteta has called on Mesut Ozil and Mateo Guendouzi to follow the ‘example’ of Granit Xhaka as the duo bid to salvage their Arsenal careers.
Xhaka’s career in north London looked all but over after he was stripped of the club captaincy in November, the midfielder having reacted furiously to jeers from his own support following his substitution in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace at the Emirates.
The Switzerland international was seemingly heading for the exit door until the arrival of Arteta as head coach the following month, with the 27-year-old having completed a remarkable turnaround to reestablish himself as a pivotal member of the first-team squad.
Arteta has discussed Xhaka’s return to favour and admits he has been delighted with his application in recent months, citing the star as a ‘good example’ to any player looking to bounce back from a disappointing spell.
“The challenge with Granit was to convince him that there was still a place for him here – that I had big belief in him and that things can turn around pretty quickly in this industry,” Arteta told reporters ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League clash with Aston Villa.
“He had to send the right messages. First of all, he had to believe that he could do it and if that was the case, we were going to support him all the way through.
“I’m really glad to hear and sense the reaction from the fans towards him, I think they can appreciate what he’s done. That’s in the past, there’s a lot of positives to take from difficult situations and we all learn from that.
“He’s a really good example for any player that is in a difficult moment that if you are willing, consistent and really want to do it generally, I think there’s always a way back.”
“I don’t think we should bring players that need a lot of convincing. The feeling I get when I talk to a lot of people is that players still want to come to the club because of the history, the way we do things, our values, the fans we have, our stadium.”
– Mikel Arteta pic.twitter.com/kOa9M2blrd
— AFTV (@AFTVMedia) July 20, 2020
Two players currently on the periphery at Arsenal are Ozil and Guendouzi, the former having failed to feature since the Premier League’s restart and looking increasingly likely to depart after falling firmly out-of-favour.
Guendouzi has also been sidelined and is reportedly training on his own following his antics in the 2-1 defeat to Brighton last month, the 21-year-old having grabbed Neil Maupay by the throat after the Arteta’s side crashed to defeat at the Amex Stadium.
Despite their current situations, Arteta has refused to close the door on a potential return for either Ozil or Guendouzi, and believes the turnaround of Xhaka should act as an example to any player’s bid to regain favour.
“That applies for any player, and any member of the staff,” Arteta replied.
“If you really show that then you’re deciding to do the best, not for yourself, but for the team and for the club, I think everybody will welcome you.
“It’s not just me that has to give the green light. It’s everybody that has to be supportive and you need to feel as well that support from everybody because if not it’s a very uncomfortable situation.”