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Granit Xhaka: Arsenal midfielder stripped of captaincy, says Unai Emery

Granit Xhaka
Granit Xhaka reacted angrily to the reaction from Arsenal fans when he was substituted against Crystal Palace on 27 October

Midfielder Granit Xhaka has been stripped of the Arsenal captaincy with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang taking over, Gunners’ boss Unai Emery has confirmed.

He joined the club in a £35m move from German side Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016 and played in the 2017 FA Cup final as Arsenal beat Chelsea.

Xhaka, who is the captain of the Swiss national side, also helped the Gunners reach the League Cup final in 2018 and the final of the Europa League earlier this year.

Arsenal are fifth in the Premier League and play away at third-placed Leicester on Saturday.

Granit Xhaka
Granit Xhaka, who has made 144 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal, took part in training on Tuesday

‘This leaves a huge question mark over Xhaka’s future’

Phil McNulty, BBC Sport’s chief football reporter

Emery’s decision to strip Xhaka of the Arsenal captaincy was the inevitable consequence of his angry exchange with supporters during the draw with Crystal Palace.

The whole affair has been a mess of Emery’s making, starting with letting a blind vote among Arsenal’s players elect a captain rather than being strong enough to make the decision himself, ending with a figure who has never been a fans’ favourite and has had a chequered career at the club with the armband.

And while there is understandable sympathy for Xhaka because of abuse he has suffered on social media, it was impossible for him to continue as captain once he gestured and mouthed towards fans when he was substituted during the 2-2 draw.

Xhaka had not actually been subjected to any undue criticism from supporters during the game itself, a fact many have missed, with the frustrations inside the stadium only bubbling to the surface when he decided to make his slow-motion exit, almost goading and provoking fans before taking off his shirt and walking down the tunnel.

No matter what the human emotions are, it was an action that made this latest development predictable but also highlights Emery’s own uneasy handling of the captaincy succession after Laurent Koscielny’s departure.

It has turned up the spotlight on Emery and leaves a huge question mark over whether Xhaka has any sort of future at Arsenal.

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