Biography

Granit Xhaka

Swiss Footballer
Granit Xhaka
Granit Xhaka (Photo: The Sport Review)

Granit Xhaka is a Swiss footballer who plays as a central midfielder for Premier League club Arsenal.

Granit Xhaka

• Date of birth: 27 September 1992
• Age: 29 years old
• Place of birth: Basel, Switzerland
• Nationality: Swiss
• Wife: Leonita Lekaj
• Position: Central midfielder
• Height: 186cm / 6ft 1ins
• Weight: 80kg / 176lbs
• Wages: £100,000 per week (unconfirmed)

• Facebook: @GranitXhaka
• Instagram: @granitxhaka

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 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.

FC Basel

Granit was born in Basel to Albanian parents on 27 September 1992.

Xhaka ended up at his hometown club of FC Basel following various stints at other youth clubs in his hometown.

Granit Xhaka

(Photo: @granitxhaka / Instagram)

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 also gained some vital experience in the Champions League with appearances against Bayern Munich, Manchester United and Benfica during his final season at Basel.

Borussia Monchengladbach

Borussia Monchengladbach signed Xhaka in a £8.5m deal from Basel on 18 May 2012.

Xhaka made his first start for the German side in a 3-1 loss to Ukrainian side Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League.

Granit Xhaka

(Photo: @granitxhaka / Instagram)

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 Gladbach 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 for 2014-15 after he scored four goals and two assists for Gladbach 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 the 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

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.

Granit Xhaka

(Photo: @granitxhaka / Instagram)

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 a 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 by netting 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. Although he wasn’t branded as an out-and-out 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.

Xhaka helped Arsenal to win the FA Cup for a second time since his move to the club under Mikel Arteta in 2019-20.

International Career

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 eventually decided to play for Switzerland despite his brother Taulant opting to represent Albania.

Granit Xhaka

(Photo: @granitxhaka / Instagram)

Ottmar Hitzfeld handed Granit his senior Switzerland debut in a 2-2 draw with England at Wembley in Euro 2012 qualifier in June 2011.

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.

Personal Life

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 is also a footballer and plays as a defender.

Granit married his long-term girlfriend Leonita Lekaj in July 2017.

Granit Xhaka

Granit and his wife Leonita (Photo: @granitxhaka / Instagram)

Granit Xhaka – Did You Know?

• Xhaka’s footballing idol was former France and Real Madrid attacking midfielder Zinedine Zidane.

• Former Bayern Munich and Switzerland manager Ottmar Hitzfeld likened Xhaka 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

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