Granit Xhaka will be offered counselling by Arsenal amid concerns about the his mental well-being following the incident that leaves him at risk of losing the captaincy.
Xhaka was last night still refusing calls from manager Unai Emery to apologise for Sunday’s outburst against supporters. But his welfare seems to be the club’s priority after it was revealed that the 27-year-old has been left ‘devastated’ by the controversy.
Manager Emery confirmed he held talks with Xhaka yesterday following the shocking scenes against Crystal Palace when the midfielder (right) antagonised home fans before telling them to ‘f*** off’ as he was substituted. As revealed by Sportsmail, Emery confirmed he has held individual meetings with other players as he considers whether Xhaka should remain as captain.
The Switzerland international will miss tonight’s Carabao Cup clash against Liverpool and there are doubts over whether he will be in the right frame of mind to play against Wolves on Saturday.
Sources close to Xhaka claim he has been deeply affected by the clash with fans, when he was booed and sarcastically applauded.
It is claimed Xhaka has been particularly fragile since the win over Aston Villa in September, when he was also booed when he was substituted.
The former Borussia Monchen-gladbach star has been targeted by Gunners fans on social media, something that is said to have deeply upset him. It is understood he disabled the comments function on his Instagram page earlier this month to avoid seeing the abuse levelled at him.
Intriguingly, Xhaka replaced an Arsenal profile picture on Instagram yesterday with one of him in action for Switzerland.
His team-mates have rallied round him and are privately backing their beleaguered colleague to remain as captain despite calls from supporters for him to be stripped of the armband.
Xhaka was appointed skipper after a vote which included playing staff — a clear indication of his popularity. Emery was refusing to be drawn yesterday on whether Xhaka would keep the job, although the delay in making a decision suggests a reluctance to demote his midfield anchorman.
Emery has, however, revealed that Xhaka ignored pleas from inside the club to apologise to fans. On whether he should, Emery said: ‘Yes. We make mistakes, we need to apologise and we suggested for him to do that.
‘Really, he knows he was wrong and he feels inside very deep. He is now devastated and sad. He is down and the most important thing is that we look after him to recover our best Granit Xhaka.’
Mesut Ozil will return to the Arsenal squad for tonight’s game at Liverpool following talks with Emery, and could even captain the team at Anfield.
The German has been left out for six games, casting doubt over his future at the club. But Emery said: ‘We have had a very good conversation and I said to him I haven’t changed my idea about him. He knows what I want from him because it’s the same as last season and on the first day of pre-season when we talked.
‘Our conversation this time was because I wanted to know how he’s thinking now to help us and be with us tomorrow. It was a very good conversation and he’s in the group for tomorrow.’