Roma director Tiago Pinto has claimed Granit Xhaka wanted to leave Arsenal and join Jose Mourinho’s side in the Italian capital, but the Gunners refused to sanction his transfer.
Xhaka, 28, has endured a polarising stint in the Premier League since moving to Arsenal from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016, and it looked like this summer he was destined to leave the club, with Roma most heavily associated with his name.
In the end the Switzerland international remained at the Emirates and put pen to paper on a new deal that will run until at least 2024, with the option for a further year, and he has subsequently started all four games for the Gunners this season.
However, fans were once again left frustrated over the weekend as Xhaka picked up his fourth red card since the start of 2016/17, more than any other player in the division during that time, leaving Mikel Arteta with 10 men at the Etihad as Manchester City ran riot in a 5-0 win.
It has now been revealed that both Roma and Xhaka were keen to unite this summer but the stumbling block in any potential transfer proved to be from Arsenal’s end, with the club refusing the let their midfield general part ways, at least according to Pinto.
The Roma director told reporters: “The market is closed and today I have fun, because we bought so many players but everyone asks me about the midfielder.
“Everyone knows we were after Xhaka, he wanted to come to Roma, but Arsenal didn’t release him. It’s my regret for this transfer market.”
Despite Roma’s failed attempt to land Xhaka, Roma pulled off some very astute business this summer, signing a total of six players for a combined £82.5m, including the permanent transfers of Roger Ibanez and Bryan Reynolds, as well as Rui Patricio, Tammy Abraham, Eldor Shomurodov and Matias Vina.
The club have hit the ground running under Mourinho, winning their opening two Serie A games in comprehensive fashion, and Pinto says he is happy with how the window turned out for his side even without Arsenal’s former captain rocking up.
He continued: “I can say that it was the most difficult transfer market in recent football history and we did a good job.
“I don’t like to say that I’m a good sporting director, but we brought the best coach in the world to the Roma bench, we strengthened the team and placed many exits. We will talk about the things we weren’t able to do, but we did well.”