Xhaka hits out at Arsenal legend Henry for ‘provoking criticism’

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner Updated: 19 May 2021 16:43 CEST 2 min read
Xhaka hits out at Arsenal legend Henry for ‘provoking criticism’

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has criticised club legend Thierry Henry for stoking hatred towards him.

Xhaka came close to leaving Arsenal in 2019 after a dramatic on-field outburst towards fans during an encounter against Burnley.

While he says he never envisaged leaving the club in the aftermath of that incident, it did leave him frustrated at television pundits. He singled out Henry and former Manchester United defender Patrice Evra in particular.

Henry, for example, once explained that he turned the television off when he saw that Xhaka was to captain Arsenal.

“There have been comments made by Evra, Thierry Henry … they make them as ex-players, sometimes about the performance of a particular player, and they kind of invite that wave of social media criticism,” Xhaka told The Guardian.

“I think some pundits might actually be provoking that criticism. It’s something you never see in Switzerland or Germany, that just doesn’t happen. It seems to be rather unique to the United Kingdom.”

I was wounded, Xhaka admits

In the aftermath of the Burnley controversy, Hertha Berlin were close to swooping for Xhaka, but the move never materialised. This was, in part, the work of manager Mikel Arteta.

“I took a big knock, I was quite wounded by the experience,” Xhaka says. “Hertha made contact, I discussed it with Arsenal and there were only a few details to complete for me to make that move.

“However, then Mikel arrived and we spoke. He wanted to hear my side of the story.

“I have to say it was the first time I had met him; I had no prior knowledge of him as a man or a coach. But we had a really great one-to-one chat – very open, very positive, very long.

“He looked deep into me, into my thinking, and he persuaded me that we should go on together, stick with each other on this Arsenal project. I am happy that I made the decision.”

Xhaka has gone some way to winning back the trust of the Arsenal fans and remains a regular in the side as they seek to improve on their current position of 10th in the Premier League.