The Gunners captain has found himself at the centre of a storm after a heated exchange with fans at the Emirates in the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace
Granit Xhaka doesn’t learn from his mistakes and will struggle to repair his relationship with Arsenal fans, according to Gary Neville.
The Gunners captain has been the centre of attention at the Emirates after a fiery exchange with supporters during the 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Xhaka was booed by sections of the home support and responded by cupping his ear to the crowd before appearing to tell them to ‘f*ck off’.
Neville has some sympathy for Xhaka with regard to that incident, with the Switzerland international’s emotional response demonstrating his passionate nature. But, in general, the former Manchester United man has serious doubts about the 27-year-old’s suitability as club captain.
“I struggle with Xhaka full stop, I’ll be honest with you,” Neville told Sky Sports . “I just think his discipline – ill-discipline – and his performances generally over a period of the last two or three years.
“I’ve never seen a soccer professional who seems to learn less from his experiences than Xhaka. He makes, it must be 400 mistimed challenges a match, he essentially gets booked in every single game I watch him. I don’t watch him every game, but every game I do watch, he gets booked.
“He doesn’t seem to set the tone for his team-mates with his performance levels, so what happened on Sunday doesn’t surprise me, because I think ill-discipline has been ultimately – he’s been riddled with it, for the last few years.”
Since joining Arsenal in the summer of 2016, Xhaka has been booked 41 times and sent off twice in 144 appearances, a rate of around one yellow card in every three games.
As with many aspects of the club, he has been a source of division among the club’s fans. The reception he received against Palace was indicative of some supporters losing patience with a soccer professional they feel hasn’t performed well enough to justify his continuing selection in the first team, while others feel he isn’t being helped by Unai Emery’s tactics.
“He does give his all, he’s committed, there’s no doubt about that,” Neville added. “But he’s the least experienced, experienced soccer professional I have ever watched. He’s rash, I don’t know why he doesn’t pick up on this.
“On Sunday – I think it can happen, I’ve got no great problem with this idea of taking on your fans, a bit of tension. It’s never great, it’s not healthy but, in football, sometimes that can happen.
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“I have a bigger problem watching him with his performance levels, the way in which he performs and doesn’t carry his team on the pitch.
“I think those little disputes can happen, I’ve seen them at Manchester United over the years where you can get those little bits of fire that can occur every so often but he’s having a poor time and ultimately I think it will be very difficult for him to continue wearing the armband.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if Unai Emery sorts it out with him, but I think it would be very difficult to patch it up quickly with the fans. He will have to apologise heavily to them.”