Soccer

Arsenal to offer Granit Xhaka counseling after fan feud: reports

AFP-JIJI

Arsenal will offer counseling to Granit Xhaka after the Gunners captain found himself in trouble for swearing at his own fans, according to reports in the British press.

Xhaka cupped his ears and gesticulated to towards Arsenal fans who booed him when he was substituted during Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium.

The 27-year-old appeared to shout “f**k off” at the crowd as he stormed towards the tunnel and pulled off his shirt.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery admitted Xhaka was wrong to react that way and refused to confirm if he would remain skipper.

Xhaka has held three meetings with Emery since the incident but the club is putting the player’s welfare ahead of any quick decision over his future.

Reports in the British media on Tuesday said counseling will be offered should Xhaka decide on such a course of action, with Emery describing the midfielder’s mood as “upset, devastated and very sad.”

It is also believed the outburst was a reaction to cumulative issues which have built up over time, including social media posts targeting Xhaka and his family.

His wife Leonita set her own Instagram profile to private after receiving abusive messages aimed at her husband, while Xhaka himself raised a few eyebrows by changing his profile picture on the platform from one where he is sporting the Arsenal armband to an image of him captaining Switzerland.

It is understood Xhaka has been made aware by the club of the benefits of offering an apology, but he is so far not in the right frame of mind to do so and is keen for any subsequent acknowledgement of wrongdoing to be genuine.

“At the moment, I am not speaking and I don’t want to speak about that,” Emery replied when asked if Xhaka could lose the captaincy over the issue.

“Now he is upset, devastated and sad. It is not only yesterday and today. He is feeling the supporters don’t like him.

“His commitment with the club is a great commitment every time. He wants to help.

“His behaviour was perfect in training, with the group and with the club. He knows he was wrong.

“He was wrong and he feels it inside very deeply. But that is normal as a human.”

Xhaka will not travel with Arsenal for Wednesday’s League Cup tie at Liverpool.

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