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Granit Xhaka: Arsenal midfielder completes £21.4m Bayer Leverkusen move after seven seasons in north London

Granit Xhaka has left Arsenal for Bayer Leverkusen seven years after his arrival from Borussia Monchengladbach; Gunners will receive a fee of £21.4m for the 30-year-old

Granit Xhaka is leaving Arsenal to join Bayer Leverkusen
Image: Granit Xhaka is leaving Arsenal to join Bayer Leverkusen

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has completed his move from Arsenal to Bayer Leverkusen after seven seasons in north London.

The 30-year-old, who made 297 appearances for the Gunners, scoring 23 goals and winning two FA Cups, departs for a fee of £21.4m as Declan Rice nears a £105m move to the Emirates Stadium.

Xhaka endured difficult periods at Arsenal, losing the captaincy after responding angrily to being booed by fans in 2019, but exits on a high having repaired relations and become a key player under Mikel Arteta.

He played a crucial role in the side's second-placed Premier League finish last season, scoring seven goals and providing seven assists in 37 appearances.

"Gunners, it's been some journey - and all that's left is for me to say thank you," he wrote on Instagram.

"I've spent seven years at Arsenal. The club has become such an important part of my life - and it's not easy to leave. But now is the right time for a new adventure.

"There are so many people I need to thank - the managers I played for, all my team-mates and the staff behind the scenes.

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"And I especially want to thank all of you. Everyone knows we've been through some tough times. But we came through them together - and I'll never ever forget the feeling I had each time we won the FA Cup or whenever I heard you singing my name. Pure goosebumps!

"I will always carry Arsenal in my heart. Once a Gunner, always a Gunner."

Arteta, meanwhile, saluted his contribution to the club, saying: "We are saying goodbye to a fantastic player and person loved by all of us.

"It has been an incredible journey together for him and he has given absolutely everything for this club. The influence Granit has had on his team mates on the pitch and colleagues at the club will tell you just how popular he is.

"We cannot thank Granit enough for his service and contribution to this club over the years. We wish Granit and his family all the best in the next step of their lives."

Edu, Arsenal's sporting director, added: "Granit has been a big part of our club for a long time. He has given us great commitment and quality over the years, playing such an important role in our progression and success.

Arsenal's Granit Xhaka has announced he is leaving the club
Image: Xhaka joined Arsenal in 2016 from Borussia Monchengladbach

"He leaves us with our huge respect and thanks. We wish Granit all the best for the future."

Xhaka has signed a five-year contract with Bayer Leverkusen and is looking forward to a return to the Bundesliga having spent four seasons with Borussia Monchengladbach earlier in his career.

"I know the league inside out and I watched it when I was in London. Bayer 04 is a club with an impressive history and ambitious targets," he said.

"Above all, I see it as a club with a great future. Discussions with the management have been incredibly motivating. Everybody here is ambitious and wants to achieve something - I'm very much looking forward to the next few years."

Analysis: How Xhaka adapted and why he leaves on a high

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A look back at the highs and lows of Xhaka's Arsenal career as his move to Bayern Leverkusen is confirmed

Sky Sports' Nick Wright:

Given how he has divided opinion at Arsenal, it is probably fitting that there are contradictory sides to Granit Xhaka's departure. At 30, entering the final year of his contract, it is undoubtedly the right time. And yet it is also true that he will be missed.

Few could have predicted that a player jeered by his own fans and stripped of the captaincy three and a half years ago would one day leave on a high. It felt implausible as recently as January of last year, when he was pilloried for a red card against Liverpool.

That dismissal at Anfield, for a last-man foul on Diogo Jota, was his fifth as an Arsenal player and taken as proof that he could never truly change his ways. But, on an emotional afternoon at the Emirates Stadium for the final game of last season against Wolves, fans who previously doubted him could be heard singing his name...

Why Xhaka will leave a void at Arsenal
Why Xhaka will leave a void at Arsenal

Read the full feature on how Granit Xhaka salvaged his Arsenal legacy and the void he will leave behind.

Analysis: Will Arsenal miss Xhaka?

Sky Sports Sam Blitz:

Over his seven years at Arsenal, Xhaka has done his fair share of dividing the Arsenal fanbase. Many are surprised he has survived this long.

Some saw him as part of the problem as Arsenal slid towards the middle of the table, others saw him as misunderstood and scapegoated.

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Speaking to Jamie Carragher as part of an MNF special, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta explains the decision to give midfielder Xhaka a new role in the team

But Xhaka's departure arrives at the moment he is finally universally liked at the Emirates Stadium.

Xhaka nearly walked away from the club in 2020, months after he was stripped of the captaincy after a public falling out with the fans, but Mikel Arteta told him to give it some time. That time has been vindicated as the Arsenal manager found him a suitable role in the team.

The 30-year-old has been an important, underrated attacking player, and one not burdened by the expectation carried by Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka. His place in the squad is similar: he does not wear the armband but many at the club claim he is skipper in all but name.

Yet given Rice may reportedly be followed by another midfield addition, then something has to give, and the £21.4m fee for Xhaka will come in handy.

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Granit Xhaka gives his reaction to his impressive performance against Chelsea in the Premier League.

Perhaps Arteta is also looking to refresh his leadership group. The likes of Rob Holding and Kieran Tierney - two of the captains at the club - are also rumoured to depart this summer.

Given two end-of-season collapses have happened in a row - albeit in different contexts - a new changing-room direction might be on the Arsenal manager's mind.

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