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Arsenal boss Arteta counting on Xhaka next season: I've had to convince him

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he'll be counting on Granit Xhaka next season.

Many fans and pundits alike believed the Swiss international midfielder would never play for Arsenal again after he was stripped of the captaincy by then manager Unai Emery last November.

However, Arteta acknowledges there had been a thawing in relations between Xhaka and supporters pre-lockdown, but predicts the best is yet to some.

He explained: "For a football player when you are on the pitch and you feel you have the fans supporting and you feel their love, it gives you an immense amount of energy and drive. Hopefully, he can enjoy that when the fans are back in our stadium.'

It could be argued that playing behind closed doors has been a bonus for players such as Xhaka, an occasional lightning rod for football's "boo-boys".

That is one for the man himself and Arteta stated: "People know better than me what happened and how much it affected all sides when that issue occurred. When I arrived here I had a very high opinion of him and knew him really well.

"I had to convince him he had a future, he had a place here and he could enjoy his career and his family could be happy here.

"He is a player that when he commits he goes 100 per cent. He has worked really hard and he has won everybody's trust again.

"I think he's started to enjoy it again and, normally, when you have those two aspects together – that's when players perform at the highest level."

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Paul Vegas

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