Nuno Tavares reckons Garnet Xhaka perfectly bridges the gap between the players and the coaches in the Arsenal dressing room due to the midfielder’s vast experience
Nuno Tavares has hailed Granit Xhaka’s leadership qualities at Arsenal and his ability to be a buffer between the players and the coaching staff.
The Swiss international has been a controversial figure during his time at the Emirates, notably when he was stripped of his captaincy after he swore at his own own supporters after being substituted against Crystal Palace in October 2019. Xhaka has repeatedly been a liability with several costly red cards in big games which led to claims he was joining Roma last summer. The midfielder would end up staying put, signing a new contract and it’s been a completely different story this season.
He has arguably had his best campaign in an Arsenal shirt but it’s his influence off the pitch that has been priceless to Arteta’s young squad as he has emerged as one of the leaders inside the dressing room. Xhaka did not mince his words when he called out his Arsenal teammates following their disappointing defeat to Newcastle as Champions League football slipped from their grasp.
Those comments received backlash from the likes of Gary Neville who called him a “disgrace” at times during his Arsenal career. But it seems that not the viewpoint of the dressing room as Tavares insists he appreciates Xhaka’s honesty and respects him as a leader.
The full-back insists some coaches “do not understand how to speak” to players but reckons Xhaka bridges that gap perfectly due to his vast experience. He told the Counter Attack Podcast: “I do not know why people talked about Granit. He’s a leader, everybody respects him and his mentality is key for us.
I think the way he talks with young players I think is enough to be happy to play. He knows what to tell the players. To give some confidence sometimes the coaches do not understand how to speak with the players.
“But Granit because he’s a player too, he knows what he needs to tell you to get motivated but when you do not train well he’s honest. Sometimes we joke about that when it’s like a disaster he can tell you! But he’s really good and funny, I think he’s a leader and you can have a conversation with him, he knows everything. “
Xhaka’s eye-opening post-match interview with Sky Sports suggested that some of his colleagues needed to show a bit more courage against Newcastle given Champions League football was on the line.
“It’s difficult to find the right words. From the first minute to the 90th we did not deserve to be on the pitch,” the former Borussia Monchengladbach star conceded.
Stuart MacFarlane / Getty Images)
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“If someone isn’t ready for this game, stay at home. It doesn’t matter your age. If you’re nervous, stay on the bench or stay at home. You need people to have the balls to come here and play .It’s one of the most important games for us.We’re feeling very disappointed for the people who came over here.
“The dressing room is very quiet. The game plan was totally different to what we did over 90 minutes. We are waiting for six years. We had everything in our hands. We looked like we were in the position where Newcastle are and they were where we are. “