Granit Xhaka’s close friend reveals Arsenal captain is ‘grief stricken’ after being abused by fans and ‘regrets’ telling supporters to ‘f*** off’ in x-rated rant as he walked off the pitch during 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace
- Granit Xhaka has confided in a former team-mate after Arsenal controversy
- Xhaka was jeered by Arsenal fans as he was substituted against Crystal Palace
- The midfielder responded by angrily telling abusive supporters to ‘f*** off’
- Xhaka’s friend says fans were wrong to turn on him and should support him
A close friend of Granit Xhaka has revealed the Arsenal captain is ‘grief stricken’ after being booed as he was substituted during the club’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace.
Xhaka was heckled and jeered by large sections of the home support and responded by throwing his arms in the air and telling fans to ‘f*** off’.
The midfielder spoke to his former FC Basel academy team-mate Patrik Dibrani after the game and admitted the incident had left him hurt and confused.
Granit Xhaka reacted angrily to abuse from Arsenal fans after being replaced on Sunday
Xhaka told fans to ‘f*** off’ and cupped his ear in response to jeers ringing around the stadium
The midfielder also appeared to snub a handshake from Arsenal manager Unai Emery
Xhaka then removed his shirt and stormed down the tunnel in frustration without looking back
‘It hurts me a great deal. Granit is like a brother to me,’ Dibrani told Swiss publication Blick.
‘I understand that he did not react well to the booing but if you are a true fan of your club it is like a love affair.
‘You have to be there for each other in the bad times as well as the good. There should be no place for booing your own players.
One of Xhaka’s close friends, Patrik Dibrani, (right) says Xhaka is ‘grief stricken’ at incident
‘I spoke on the phone to Granit after the game. He’s not in a good place – he is grief-stricken.
‘He regretted his actions straight away. He is an emotional person.’
Dibrani also took aim at Arsenal fans and sections of the media, who he says are wrong to single Xhaka out for criticism.
‘The fans and the English media are quick to bury him,’ he added. ‘He is at an age when he can make mistakes, and only human.
Xhaka was named Arsenal captain in September but fans want him stripped of the armband
‘I think the fans who slaughter him are tourists. They are not genuine supporters.
‘Granit does everything for his football. He had a personal trainer, and missed out on partying.
‘Then he gets abused in the stadium and on social media. The comments are below the belt.
‘At Basel he was an undisputed first-teamer aged 18, and he was Borussia Monchengladbach’s youngest ever captain.
‘Now he gets slaughtered without mercy. It is not fair.’
Since the incident, Arsenal boss Unai Emery has admitted Xhaka was wrong to react to fans, while supporters have called for him to be stripped of the captain’s armband.
The Gunners have also offered the midfielder counselling in a bid to help him clear his head and move on from the incident.