Granit XhakaSwiss footballer
Granit Xhaka is a Swiss footballer who currently plays for Premier League club Arsenal.
The defensive midfielder started his professional career at Basel alongside his older brother Taulant Xhaka.
Granit moved to Bundesliga side Borussia Monchengladbach in May 2012 at the age of 20 after earning comparisons to German legend Bastian Schweinsteiger.
After four seasons with Monchengladbach, Xhaka completed a £33m switch to Premier League club Arsenal in May 2016.
The holding midfielder won the 2017 FA Cup title in his first season at Arsenal.
Xhaka opted to represent Switzerland ahead of Albania. He made his debut in a 2-2 draw with England at Wembley in May 2012.
• Date of birth: 27 September 1992
• Age: 29 years old
• Place of birth: Basel, Switzerland
• Nationality: Swiss
• Height: 185cm / 6ft 1 ins
• Weight: 82kg / 181 lbs
• Transfer value: £33m
• Wages: £90,000 a week
Granit was born in Basel to Albanian parents on 27 September 1992.
Naturally, Xhaka ended up at Basel following various stints at youth clubs in his hometown.
The versatile midfielder rose up through the youth ranks at the Swiss club. Xhaka broke into the Basel first team at the start of the 2010-11 season.
Xhaka scored on his Basel debut in a 2-0 away win against Hungarian side Debrecen in the Champions League in 2010-11.
He helped Basel to win the Swiss Super League title in his first season as a regular starter.
Xhaka’s second campaign at his hometown club saw the defensive midfielder win the league and cup double in Switzerland.
The Swiss starlet got vital experience in the Champions League with appearances against Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Benfica during his final season at Basel.
Borussia Monchengladbach signed Xhaka in a £8.5m deal from Basel on 18 May 2012.
Xhaka made his first start in a 3-1 loss to Ukrainian side Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League.
His Bundesliga debut went significantly better as Monchengladbach managed to secure a 2-1 win against 1899 Hoffenheim.
Xhaka’s only Bundesliga goal in the 2012-13 season came in a 3-2 loss to Nuremberg. Overall, he scored one goal and made one assist in 18 starts and 13 substitute appearances.
Granit further established himself as an important member of the Borussia Monchengladbach team during his second season in Germany.
He helped the Bundesliga side secure sixth place in the table but failed to score a goal for the club in the 2013-14 campaign.
During his third season at Monchengladbach, Xhaka came into his own and earned a reputation as one of the Bundesliga’s most exciting talents.
Indeed, Granit was instrumental in helping Borussia to finish in third place in the Bundesliga table and secure a Champions League spot.
Xhaka was named in the Bundesliga’s team of the season after he scored four goals and two assists for Borussia in all competitions.
The Swiss midfielder captained Monchengladbach for the first time in a 4-2 win against Augsburg in September 2015. Granit celebrated the special moment with a goal in their thrilling win.
He retained the captain’s armband for 3-1 win against Stuttgart a few day later to underline his leadership qualities.
Xhaka got his first taste of Champions League football in almost four years when Borussia lost 2-1 to Manchester City in their opening group stage fixture.
He went on to start both of Borussia’s stalemates with Serie A champions Juventus in the group stage, as well as their 4-2 win over Sevilla.
Xhaka earned his fifth red card of his Bundesliga career in a 3-2 loss to Darmstadt in December. As penance, Granit voluntarily donated £20,000 to charity.
He finished the 2015-16 season with three goals and two assists in 46 games in all competitions.
Arsenal signed Granit in a £33m deal from Borussia Monchengladbach on 25 May 2016. Xhaka’s transfer fee made him the then third-most expensive Arsenal signing of all-time behind Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez.
The Swiss made his first appearance in an Arsenal shirt in a 2-1 win against Major League All-Stars in Santa Clara, California in July 2016.
Xhaka’s made his Premier League debut as a second-half substitute in Arsenal’s 4-3 loss to Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium in their opening game of the season.
While his first appearance in the English top flight was forgettable, Granit opened his Premier League account in style with a powerful finish from outside the area in a 4-1 win against Hull City at KC Stadium.
Finding his range in English football, Xhaka’s second Arsenal goal came four days later when the defensive midfielder scored another long-range goal in a 4-0 win over Championship side Nottingham Forest in the League Cup.
Xhaka’s disciplinary record was a talking point when the defensive midfielder arrived at the north London record. The Switzerland international earned his first red card in a 3-2 win against Swansea City at The Emirates.
Granit made amends a month later with his first Champions League goal for Arsenal in a 3-1 win against Bulgarian side Ludogorets.
Xhaka earned an incredible ninth red card since April 2014 when he was sent off in the Gunners’ 2-1 win against Burnley at The Emirates in January 2017.
He finished his first season as an Arsenal player with four goals and three assists in 46 appearances in all competitions. The Gunners finished in fifth place in the table.
Granit ended the season on a high note with the opening goal in Arsenal’s 2-0 win against Manchester United in the Premier League at The Emirates.
Arsenal won the FA Cup thanks to a 2-1 win against 2017 Premier League champions Chelsea at Wembley in May 2017.
The holding midfielder struggled to find consistency during his first season at Arsenal. While he wasn’t branded a flop, Xhaka was left with plenty to prove at the Gunners.
Xhaka enjoyed more success at Wembley when Arsenal beat Chelsea on penalties in the Community Shield in August 2017.
The Swiss star continued to struggle in the 2017-18 season but managed to retain a place in Arsene Wenger’s team despite being culpable for a number of soft goals.
Granit scored his first Premier League goal of the 2017-18 season in a 3-3 draw with Liverpool FC at the Emirates Stadium on 23 December. His effort was another of his trademark long-range goals.
Xhaka scored from close range in Arsenal’s 2-1 win against Chelsea to book their place in the League Cup final at Wembley. The Gunners lost 3-0 to Manchester City in the showpiece.
New Arsenal manager Unai Emery underlined his appreciation for Xhaka after the Spanish head coach described Granit as a key part of his plans following the Swiss star’s contract extension in June 2018.
Granit was a regular in Switzerland’s youth teams but the holding midfielder didn’t automatically decide to represent his country of birth at senior level.
Xhaka finally decided to declare for Switzerland despite his brother Taulant opting to represent Albania.
Ottmar Hitzfeld handed Granit his Switzerland debut in a 2-2 draw with England at Wembley in their 2012 World Cup qualifier.
Xhaka was selected to represent Switzerland at the 2014 World Cup. The holding midfielder scored in a 5-2 loss to France in the group stage.
At Euro 2016, Granit faced his brother Taulant in their group-stage clash. His parents were in the crowd supporting both siblings. Switzerland edged to a 1-0 win over Albania.
Hitzfeld’s side exited the tournament following a penalty shootout loss to Poland. Xhaka missed the decisive spot-kick in the round of 16 clash.
Xhaka’s brother Taulant is a regular for Swiss club Basel and the Albania national team.
The Arsenal midfielder has another younger brother, Agon, who plays for Kosovo club FC Prishtina.
Granit married his long-term girlfriend Leonita Lekaj in July 2017.
Interesting facts about Granit Xhaka
• Granit was subjected to persistent jeering when Switzerland faced Albania in 2014 World Cup qualifying. His brother Taulant chose to represent the country of his parents’ birth.
• Xhaka’s footballing idol was former France and Real Madrid attacking midfielder Zinedine Zidane, who is currently in charge of los Blancos.
• Former Bayern Munich and Switzerland manager Ottmar Hitzfeld likened him to a “young Schweinsteiger”.
• Xhaka has experience of winning trophies at international level. Indeed, Granit captained Switzerland to U17 World Cup glory in Nigeria in 2009