Arsenal’s plans for wheeling-and-dealing in regards to Granit Xhaka have rocked Newcastle United’s hopes of signing the midfielder, according to the Northern Echo.
The newspaper claims that Magpies boss Steve Bruce has made the Switzerland international a prime transfer target, and both he and managing director Lee Charnley are ready to sanction a loan move for the player.
However, the Gunners are hoping to use the 27-year-old as a makeweight in a potential move for Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Denis Zakaria, who they view as a younger, more athletic version of Xhaka.
That would end Newcastle’s chances of signing the veteran, as any swoop would be a loan one allowing Xhaka to continue his stay in England, something which isn’t Arsenal’s preferred option.
This is certainly a blow for Bruce, but whether the Newcastle supporters will view it that way remains to be seen. Obviously there are serious character concerns with Xhaka, which has effectively ended his career at the Emirates Stadium. So would you really want to bring a player like that into what is a tight-knit group on Tyneside? You have to judge whether his talent outweighs the obvious personality issues. However, Xhaka isn’t Eric Cantona, he’s not Paulo Di Canio, where you could forgive their out-there personalities because of their immense natural ability. Is the Swiss star a better midfielder than Sean Longstaff, Jonjo Shelvey or Isaac Hayden? Maybe, maybe not. He’s there or thereabouts. But he’s not so much better that you can ignore the obvious red flags. Whether Arsenal are successful with their Zakaria plan is what Newcastle’s Xhaka hopes hinge on, and you’d expect them to do everything they can to bring their target in while getting rid of an out-of-favour trouble-maker. That, then, would end Bruce’s hopes.