Newcastle United should reignite interest in vilified Arsenal star

Granit Xhaka in action against Newcastle United. (Photo by IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images)
Granit Xhaka in action against Newcastle United. (Photo by IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images) /

Newcastle United need to add more quality in the middle of the park and they can find that in Granit Xhaka.

Newcastle United were praised for their business this summer, especially their ability to secure the services of Callum Wilson, but now they are looking at making a few moves in January. The Magpies have been linked with a wide range of players, but it remains to be seen how the club will prioritize their targets.

Over the last few weeks it has become apparent that Newcastle United are in dire need of a central midfielder who is comfortable on the ball and can make plays happen for others up ahead. Isaac Hayden is consistent and reliable, but his overall game is centered on defending and disrupting.

Sean Longstaff and Jeff Hendrick are proving to be too weak when on the ball, and they lack any sort of basic creativity. The Magpies need to add a player who shares similar attributes to Jonjo Shelvey to serve as an additional playmaker and that player can be Granit Xhaka.

The part-time Arsenal captain is surely on his way out of north London even if no concrete reports have come out stating this information. The Swiss international has constantly been taking heat from Arsenal fans, and like many other players in that squad he is not performing due to the Gunners’ collective struggles. The fact that they are currently 15th and four points behind Newcastle United through 14 games is shocking.

Newcastle United were keen on signing Xhaka in the last January transfer window and even went as far as using defender Fabian Schar, who also plays for Switzerland, to recruit his national teammate. Xhaka ended up staying, but a second round of recruitment efforts could do the trick this time.

Why Xhaka?

Arsenal fans will disagree with this statement, but he actually is a proper leader on the pitch, and this is reflected in his role with the Swiss national team. Xhaka has been a key player for his nation since 2011 and played a major role in their success in multiple continental and World Cup tournaments.

With only eight Premier League goals to his name since 2016, Xhaka is not known as a scorer, but his passing is among the best in England. Over the last four seasons, Xhaka averaged a pass completion rating of 86%, and his rating this term is 89% with 590 pass attempts.

When dissecting those numbers even further, Xhaka’s pass completion rating for non-short passes was 91.4% last season and is 95.2% this term. It also worth noting that Xhaka’s long ball accuracy (78.6%) is significantly better than Shelvey’s (56.1%).

Furthermore, Xhaka is not just completing basic, meaningless passes. Over the last three seasons, the Swiss midfielder has averaged 67 passes that led to shots, and during that same time period he has created 25 goal-creating actions from the middle of the park.

For a full list of Granit Xhaka’s statistics, click here.

With each passing day it is becoming evident that Xhaka is no longer a good fit for Arsenal, but he can be the key piece of the puzzle that Newcastle United are missing at the moment.

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As soon as Arsenal begin listening to offers for Xhaka, which I assume they will, Newcastle United should jump to the front of the line.