Mikel Arteta has paid a glowing tribute to Granit Xhaka amid speculation the long-serving Arsenal midfielder has all but agreed a move to Bayer Leverkusen.
The 30-year-old has enjoyed his best ever season at the north club and played a key role in securing a return to the after a seven-year absence.
Xhaka has been given a new lease of life by his manager who has deployed him a new attacking role that has yielded seven goals and seven assists in all competitions.
Despite the progress he has made an undoubted worth to one of the youngest squads in the , Xhaka is keen on a fresh challenge and a return to the Bundesliga where he spent four years earlier in his career with Borussia Monchengladback.
and personal terms are already agreed with Arsenal ready to accept an offer in the region of £13million.
Xhaka could have the opportunity to pay an emotional farewell to Arsenal’s fans against Wolves at the Emirates next week but Arteta refused to confirm his future would be clarified ahead of that match.
‘The clarity I think is he is a player who has played every minute since I’ve been the manager,’ said Arteta ahead of Saturday’s match against Nottingham Forest.
‘He is an incredibly respected figure at the club. He has a great history around him with what he has achieved at the club in going through very tough moments.
‘He is a key and very important part of us and whatever happens will be something that we discuss certainly not now.’
While Xhaka is soon to represent Arsenal’s past, goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale is very much part of the club’s future after he confirmed he had signed a new long-term deal on Thursday.
‘Reacting to that news, Arteta said: ‘We’re all so happy that Aaron has signed a new contract. The way Aaron has developed over the past two years has been exceptional, with his performances, contribution and overall adaptation to the club.
‘It’s great that we’re continuing to build our future with our biggest talents in our young squad. We’re all looking forward to enjoying many more years of Aaron the player and the person at the football club.’
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