·9 July 2023
·9 July 2023
Granit Xhaka has rejected suggestions his move from Arsenal to Bayer Leverkusen was fuelled by his partner's desire to leave England.
Xhaka agreed a €25m move to North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany after a brilliant campaign for the Gunners, helping them to second and qualification for the Champions League.
His exit comes with Arsenal close to bringing in Declan Rice for a British record transfer fee as Mikel Arteta reshapes his midfield ahead of the 2023/24 season.
There had been claims Xhaka's wife's unhappiness in England played a part in the 30-year-old leaving, but he has rejected that idea.
Xhaka told Keystone-SDA: "There was speculation everywhere that my wife was no longer happy in England. That is not at all true.
"The fact is that as a person I am always interested in new challenges. After seven years, the time has come for something completely new.
"The league is not new, but the club is. During the talks with Simon Rolfes [sporting director] and Xabi Alonso, I felt that the long-term project at Leverkusen was worthwhile and that it was 100% in line with me."
The Switzerland international brought a fluctuating stint with the Gunners that lasted seven years to an end by returning to the Bundesliga with Xabi Alonso's Leverkusen. He won the FA Cup twice and scored 23 goals in 297 appearances for the north London side.
Xhaka won over Arsenal fans by becoming an important cog under Mikel Arteta, having previously been an outcast under Unai Emery after storming off the pitch and losing the club captaincy in 2019.