·16 July 2023
·16 July 2023
Mikel Arteta says Granit Xhaka's exit from Arsenal was amicable after the midfielder showed a 'clear desire' to move to Bayer Leverkusen.
The Switzerland international enjoyed arguably his best Gunners season in 2022/23, having previously endured a love-hate relationship with the club's fans.
Xhaka contributed seven goals and seven assists in the Premier League last term as they finished second and sealed a return to the Champions League, but Xhaka backed away from contract talks in May in a major hint that his north London career was coming to an end.
The 30-year-old revealed he was won over by Bayer Leverkusen's long-term project under manager Xabi Alonso and sporting director Simon Rolfes after signing for the German side. Arteta has now backed up that account.
Speaking after Arsenal's first pre-season friendly of the summer - a 1-1 draw with Nurnberg - Arteta said: "There are three parts to this. He had a clear desire that it was the right time and that it was a big, big opportunity for him personally to move there.
"We had that conversation and at the end we all agreed that it was the right thing to move forward."
Xhaka joins a Leverkusen side that rallied during April and May to finish sixth and qualify for the Europa League, having been as low as 12th at the start of 2023.
The former Borussia Monchengladbach star won two FA Cups with Arsenal during his seven-season stay at the Emirates, scoring 23 goals in 297 appearances.
The impact of his departure has been majorly softened by the from West Ham, while defender Jurrien Timber's move has also been confirmed. Kai Havertz was the Gunners' first signing of the summer in late June.