With Arsenal poised to sign Granit Xhaka we look at some facts, figures and video of the incoming midfielder.
Name: Granit Xhaka
Place of birth: Basel, Switzerland
Born in Basel, Switzerland to Kosovo Albanian parents, Xhaka is the younger of two footballing brothers. Both Granit and his older sibling, Taulant Xhaka, came through the ranks at Basel before Granit departed for Gladbach in 2012.
By that stage he had won two Swiss Super League titles and a Swiss Cup, taking home the Young Player of the Year award in 2012 and leading former Basel coach Thorsten Fink to say: “Xherdan Shaqiri is the best talent in Switzerland…after Xhaka.”
Style of play
One of the jewels of Swiss football since his teenage years, Xhaka’s idol was Zinedine Zidane but former national team boss Ottmar Hitzfeld likened him to a “young Schweinsteiger” instead.
Once nicknamed “Little Einstein” due to his passion for science, Xhaka is intelligent in possession, composed on the ball, and keeps things ticking over for Gladbach with an 85 per cent pass completion percentage this season, second best on the team.
He consistently ranks in the top 30 Bundesliga players for tackles and interceptions per game, but that combative style has landed him in disciplinary trouble too, with Xhaka leading the league in fouls per game (2.8), and red cards (three).
But his all-action approach is one many Arsenal fans feel they lack in central midfield. When they beat Bayern Munich in December, in the words of Xhaka, Gladbach “were the first ones to play three at the back and one v one all over the pitch, forcing Bayern to play long balls.”