West Ham captain Mark Noble believes underfire midfielder Granit Xhaka should consider leaving Arsenal.
The Switzerland international was given the captain’s armband by Unai Emery at the start of this season but has struggled for form and come under intense scrutiny from Arsenal fans.
Should Xhaka leave Arsenal? Five things to know…
- Xhaka was booed off the pitch during Arsenal’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
- He subsequently sat out their Carabao Cup match against Liverpool on Wednesday.
- Xhaka has since released a statement saying he and his family have suffered “repeated abuse” on social media and at matches.
- He also said his gestures toward Arsenal fans against Palace were as a result of him “reaching boiling point”.
- The Switzerland international also missed Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Wolves.
Things came to a head during the Gunners’ 2-2 draw at home to Crystal Palace last week when Xhaka’s substitution was met with cheers from sections of the Emirates crowd, before he was then jeered for gesturing in response to those supporters.
Xhaka has since issued a statement where he revealed the extent of the disgusting abuse he and his family have had to suffer through recently, insisting his actions against Crystal Palace were as a result of him reaching “boiling point”.
The following is a message from Granit Xhaka… pic.twitter.com/YG5lBKmQvi
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) October 31, 2019
And Noble sympathises with his counterpart, believing it might be time for Xhaka to instruct his agent to find him a new club.
“Granit has taken a lot of flak for his reaction after being substituted last weekend but — as a fellow captain of a London Premier League club — I did have some sympathy for him,” Noble wrote in a column for the Evening Standard.
“I know what it’s like when things are not going as well as you would like because, if you’re a manager or a captain, fans tend to aim more criticism at you.
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“Granit is one of those players who wears his heart on his sleeve and it’s tough for him at the moment.
“In all honesty, the best solution might be to tell his agent, ‘Look, they don’t like me here, so maybe it’s best if I go and play somewhere else’.
“There would be a lot of takers for him because he is a quality player and it does seem, from the outside, that his fellow players love him, both as a professional and a person. If I was him I would say, ‘I’ve had a great time here, but it’s not worked out recently and it’s time for a new challenge’.”
“Once the box is open, it never closes”
Noble is no stranger to harsh treatment from supporters and has come in for plenty of criticism from West Ham fans himself over the years.
And the 32-year-old believes that, based on advice given to him by former Hammers boss Slaven Bilic, Xhaka may never be able to repair the damage with Arsenal fans now, who will be scrutinising his every move and mistake.
He added: “I remember Slaven Bilic telling me, ‘Once the box is open, it never closes’.
“The chances are that, if he makes one bad pass in the next match in which he plays, they’ll be on him again.”
Arsenal were unable to hold onto a one-goal lead at the Emirates on Saturday, where Raul Jimenez’s header gave Wolves a share of the points. Noble’s West Ham side, meanwhile, lost 3-2 at home to Newcastle United and are now winless in six games across all competitions since beating Manchester United 2-0 in the top flight.