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Xhaka insists he is still ‘proud’ to play for Arsenal despite ‘hurtful’ reaction from fans

Granit Xhaka insists he is still ‘proud’ to play for Arsenal despite the ‘hurtful’ reaction he received from the club’s supporters during last month’s draw with Crystal Palace.

The Switzerland international reacted angrily after being substituted during the clash at the Emirates on October 27, mouthing ‘f*** off’ towards the Arsenal fans who greeted Unai Emery’s decision to substitute the midfielder with cheers after another below-par display.

Xhaka also removed his shirt and headed straight down the tunnel, an incident which has seen him removed as club captain and replaced by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Despite his strained relationship with his own fans, Xhaka insists he remains proud to represent the club and will continue working as he looks to salvage his Arsenal career.

“When my shirt number lit up on the fourth official’s panel and our own fans broke into gleeful jubilation, that hit me very hard and really upset me,” Xhaka told Swiss publication Blick. “It was very hurtful and frustrating.

“I can’t understand a reaction like that even now, especially the vehemence of it and the extreme hostility directed against me. I don’t mean to say that I can’t take criticism. If the team and I don’t play well, we must listen and work on it.

“But insulting and swearing at your own captain will cause upset and a bad atmosphere for the team you are actually supposed to be supporting. That makes no sense to me and weakens the team’s spirit.

“Some of my team-mates came to see me and that was great. They encouraged me to not let it get me down. Above all they pointed out how many Arsenal fans around the world didn’t like the way the fans reacted in the stadium and condemned it.

“We’re talking about football and a captaincy. I know that means the world to a lot of people here in London and I’ve been 100 per cent behind the club and my role as a player since I came here. I’m proud to be playing for this big club.”

Xhaka’s future at the club looks to be in doubt after being left out of recent matchday squads, however, he insists he remains positive and is ready to prove his importance to the side upon his return.

“I’ll continue to stay positive, give my all to an even greater extent and prove that I’m an important part of this great team,” he added.

Read – Emery asks for ‘patience’ as Arsenal slip eight points behind top four with Leicester defeat

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