Granit Xhaka is Arsenal’s new captain, Gunners boss Unai Emery has confirmed.
The midfielder, 27, has been given the role following a players’ vote, which Gunners defender Rob Holding confirmed was taking place.
Emery introduced a pool of five captains following his appointment as manager in the summer of 2018, but his original choices did not last long due to the departures of Laurent Koscielny, Petr Cech and Aaron Ramsey.
The manager has actually named Xhaka at the top of his new pool of five captains with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Hector Bellerin, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil [all in order] the others.
Emery added that Xhaka and the club’s challenge is to “change the opinion” about him among his critics.
The Spaniard said: “I talked to him and we want to change that opinion outside because the respect he has inside is very important.
“But also to show outside, keep moving ahead, playing, improving, behaviour, commitment and in each match is for him, me and for everybody a very good opportunity to show his capacity.
“But really, I trust and believe in him. He is a good man, good professional, good player.”
Xhaka turned 27 on Friday and Arsenal tweeted a special birthday shout out to him earlier this morning.
However, the tweet received a mixed response from Arsenal fans, with some even calling on the club to sell him.
He got jeered at by some Gooners during their narrow win over Aston Villa last weekend for his performance.
Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown told talkSPORT of his surprise to see Xhaka appointed captain before suggesting Aubameyang would have been a better choice.
Keown said: “It’s a brave decision from the manager. I think he’s picked him every time he was available so he clearly believes in the player.
“I must say I’m surprised because I think first of all you have to make sure he’s going to be in the team but I think there are other people in that group, say Lucas Torreira, Mateo Guendouzi who are starting to progress, Dani Ceballos in midfield pulling the strings.
“Xhaka is going to be a permanent fixture – I’m surprised by that.
“I would have gone for Aubameyang. He would have been a good fit. He’s a regular in the team and he’s secure.
“This is really going to divide the fans because there are times when Xhaka goes missing in that midfield and he’s given away penalties recently.
“He must be an incredible character off the pitch.
“I want to see those leadership skills on the pitch, not just in the dressing room…I’ve not necessarily seen that so far.”
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However, Arsenal legend Ray Parlour has jumped to Xhaka’s defence in recent weeks, saying he is a ‘decent player’.
Parlour responded to former team-mate Keown’s criticism of Xhaka for giving away a penalty during Arsenal’s 2-2 draw at home to Tottenham earlier this season.
Parlour told talkSPORT: “Xhaka is good on the ball, he’s decent!
“He can spray passes 25 or 30 yards no problem, he’s very good at doing that.
“Sometimes he fits in and keeps it simple, but at the weekend [against Spurs] he didn’t have a good game.
“You know when you’ve not had a good game as a player and I’m sure he knew that at the end but he’s got to get back now, he’s skipper, he can’t let it worry him.
“Xhaka has just got to calm down sometimes, he’s got to be a bit cleverer, you’ve got to be clever as a player.
“When you’re captain you can’t make mistakes like he did and give the other team opportunities to score goals.”
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