Arsenal have confirmed the signing of Switzerland international Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach for a fee believed to be in the region of £30 million.
After cries of "spend, spend, spend" from the Arsenal fans on the final day of the season, it seems Arsene Wenger has rewarded the fans with a very special player indeed.
It has been 11 years since the iconic former captain, Patrick Vieira, left Arsenal, but in the time that passed, Wenger has yet to sign no-nonsense tough tackling leader to replicate his former captain's mould.
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Wenger has tried with the likes of Mathieu Flamini, Denilson, Alex Song, Mikel Arteta and even Santi Carzola recently. Gilberto Silva was in the latter stages of his career when Vieira left, and he always played a better role in his more link up style of play distributing the ball from the edges of midfield to the wide men and attackers, rather than be a cog in the wheel that kept the team calm and assured, whilst also adding cover for his defence when needed.
We have also seen Francis Coquelin burst onto the scene and do a great defensive midfield role after seizing his chance when coming back on loan from Charlton. While Coquelin does indeed pose a better, and more likeable, style of Vieira's defensive midfield displays, he lacks the leadership qualities that Vieira consistently commanded.
Nobody has come close to Vieira's vitality, until now.
Granit Xhaka is now the player being touted by both fans and pundits as the man to finally bring back what Arsenal have missed since Vieira's departure.
At 23, Xhaka is years beyond his age in terms of mental strength and leadership quality. Standing over 6ft tall, he is a commanding player. It's almost fitting his first name is Granit considering he was Borussia Monchengladbach's rock in midfield.
He possesses a passing success average of 85% and has been likened to the great Xabi Alonso for his ball distribution. His tackling successful rate averages at 2.17 tackles and 3.03 interceptions per 90 minutes, whilst his aerial dual win percentage comes in at 3.38 aerial duels per game.
Compare that to Coquelin, whose success rate is 1.12, whilst Cazorla manages just 0.07. It's easy to see why there is such a buzz about this young man.
His leadership qualities are also evident. When Borussia Monchengladbach were on a five-match losing run and firmly rooted in the bottom of the relegation zone of the Bundesliga, Xhaka was given the responsibility as captain.
The usual captain, Martin Stranzl and vice-captain Tony Jantschke, were both injured and not available for selection. The manager, Andrew Schubert had a decision to make. The logical choice would have been to pick Lars Stindl, who had been an inspirational captain for Hannover, before joining Gladbach in 2015, but instead, he opted for Xhaka.
It turned out to be the right decision as not only did he guide his teammates out of relegation, but he helped them secure a coveted Champions League place at the expense of Schalke 04.
While Xhaka is being touted as a player who can add the much-needed bite and aggression that Arsenal have clearly lacked, he will need to work on his disciplinary record.
In 108 league games, he has picked up 29 yellow cards and five reds. All the signs are, though, with the more expectations that are placed on him, the better he performs. In the final games of the Bundesliga season, he kept his cool to help guide his team into the Champions league.
Arsenal have at long last got themselves and established leader that they have missed since the days of Vieira. It seemed for a while that no one could fill the huge void he left behind, but it seems if anyone can, Xhaka can.
Will Granit Xhaka become Arsenal's next Patrick Vieira? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!
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