In his interview with Basellandschaftliche Zeitung, Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka has expressed his desire to move back to Basel at the twilight of his career.
The midfielder started his career there and played two seasons for the club from his hometown before moving to Borussia Monchengladbach in 2012. He arrived to the Emirates four years later as a marquee signing under Arsene Wenger, and so far he has played more than 100 games in an Arsenal shirt. Apart from that, he has racked up 68 caps as a Swiss international despite being only 26 years old.
Talking about the distant future, Xhaka revealed it would be a dream to put on a Basel shirt once more, but the time for that hasn’t come yet. He’ll start making plans for a move back home once he’s in his thirties, and not before, but he’d like to make it happen while he can still contribute significantly and help the Swiss team win a few trophies before hanging up his boots. He mentioned Alexander Frei as a good example.
Having left Basel at the age of 19, Frei played for five different clubs before returning there as a seasoned 30-year-old trooper. After that, he helped the club win the Swiss Super League in four consecutive seasons.
Xhaka is aware the under those circumstances the expectations are huge, but that won’t put him off from trying to replicate Frei’s late-career success.
Meanwhile, back at the Emirates, his start to a life under Unai Emery wasn’t exactly a glowing one. Partnered with young Matteo Guendouzi in midfield early on in the season, Xhaka seemed ineffective, bordering on invisible. However, as newcomer Lucas Torreira slowly grew into his role, adapted to Emery’s demands and gradually replaced Guendouzi in the starting line-up, Xhaka gained more freedom and his contribution on the pitch once again became obvious. He has been a valuable asset for the manager in every way, with his versatility seeing him deployed even as a left-back on a few occasions.
His return to Basel may come one day, but for the time being, there’s a lot for him to do at Arsenal.