The biggest compliment I can give Granit Xhaka is that he leaves with best wishes from most Gooners, while others will regret his exit.

That wouldn’t have been the case back in October 2019.

At that point we certainly wouldn’t have been able to get a fee for him over 20 million, not with only 12 months left on his contract.

After throwing down the captain’s armband and cupping his ears to the crowd in response to them cheering his substitution followed by jeers, the assumption was he would never play for Arsenal again. Unai Emery made it clear that would be the case unless his skipper made a public apology.

While there was a statement from the midfielder it was to give an explanation, not to say sorry.

He gave an insight into the level of abuse he and his family were receiving on a daily basis.

These included wishes for his baby to die and his wife to catch cancer.

Videos emerged of him stopping outside the Emirates to take photos and sign autographs, only to be sworn at.

No, he wasn’t going to say sorry to those sick people, and I admired him for his stance.

I respected a young man having his convictions and sticking to them no matter the consequences.

When his employers wouldn’t support him, he was willing to die on his sword.

The irony being that the very same fans who didn’t agree with the players moral compass loved what Mikel Arteta said on his first day as a manager.

The Spaniard said he sensed the relationship between the team and supporters needing fixing. He had non-negotiable principles and wouldn’t tolerate anyone who wouldn’t follow his ethos.

That might he why one of his first missions was to talk the Swiss captain into staying.

Arteta might have been impressed by having someone in his dressing room who had the character to have his own mind and not be swayed, no matter how big the pressure internally?

While a PR nightmare for a player to call out the customers behaviour, his boss might secretly have valued the character it took to stand up for his beliefs beyond reproach?

I was ashamed so called ‘fans’ treated one of their own this way just because they needed a scapegoat.

Bear in mind, the likes of BFG, Mustafi and Giroud have spoken about how treatment from their own fans impacted them.

It’s an embarrassment that rival fans could view us this way, because for so long the spirit in our team’s was our plus point.

Looking back – if Arteta hadn’t talked Xhaka out of leaving at that time, it would have been a dark day in our history.

Player leaves due to abuse made towards him and his wife and child …… imagine the world media reading that about Arsenal. By staying, he looked his bully in the eye, stood up to them and they went away like the cowards they are, showing they were the ones with problems…

Because let’s face it, if your response to losing at sport is to make threats behind a keyboard then you have issues!

What will you do when you have to face real adversity?

In many ways that’s his legacy.

Not his leadership qualities, Amazon’s All or Nothing series showing him the armband was just a prop, he didn’t need to wear anything to stop him being one of the most vocal members of our dressing room.

It won’t even be how his manager tactically made him into a box-to-box midfielder, capable of timing his runs into the box.

His legacy will be that he forced a section of our fanbase to look in the mirror.

A generation had been brought up thinking support was measured on how loud you shouted and how many swear words you could manage.

In an era where our mental strength was questioned, Xhaka was one of the few players to call out fans and question their morality.

His story was proof of what Mr Wenger had warned was in danger of happening, certain fans risking the proud values Arsenal were famous for.

It takes bravery to take a stand against a fanbase at a time where fan channels have become a form of football media.

Xhaka proudly represented the badge without the need to be loved, at times accepting he wasn’t popular.

It’s not the image sponsors or advertiser’s want to paint. The likes of Adidas want to sell the concept of everyone who wears their merchandise being part of the family, players role models who were relatable.

Xhaka was educated enough to separate what he did for a living and the fact he earns a healthy living.

He treated adults like adults and simply questioned whether a grown man or women should be acting in a certain matter based on the outcome of sport?

Should what happens in a game, the whole point being fun and escapism, lead to threats towards his family?

No matter the mistakes, the red cards …. did that warrant the abuse he faced?

He never demanded an apology, in the same way he wasn’t going to change his point of view.

So, while the likes of AFTV screamed expletives, he acted with dignity, never changing his personality, never conforming, confident that class would come out on top.

The irony being that as he earnt the respect of an ever-growing part of the Emirates faithful, the same YouTubers who demanded his apology for throwing an armband to the floor, pleaded for second chances when they were guilty of racial abuse and being jailed for kidnap.

Some on social media have had to review their presentation…. Xhaka hasn’t.

By all accounts Xhaka gets a long-term contract in Germany that wasn’t on the table in England.

It would be hard with a straight face to preach loyalty, given how some fans tried to bully him out of North London.

It’s fitting that he moves to Bayer Leverkusen on his own terms.

He leaves missed by many. Even as a squad player, he would have been a great option to have.

Already a young team who found the pressure of a title race too big a step, don’t underestimate how big a blow it could be losing one of few experienced players we had.

For 7 years Xhaka had a toxic relationship with some Gooners.

He’s the mistreated ex who eventually left on their own terms, leaving you wanting more.

After years of thinking the grass would be greener, it’s those Gooners who might miss Xhaka more then he misses them.

More than maybe they thought.

If he’s a success in the Bundesliga and we continue our Prem drought, he will be getting the last laugh that some will say some of my peers deserve.

If this were a movie, Xhaka is the hero who deserves the happy ending, not those who can’t cope with their team losing so have to resort to name calling and threats.

Some won’t be able to forgive or forget the concept of someone having the honour of being our captain and throwing the armband to the floor.

Xhaka probably wouldn’t want their validation anyway. Not if they were the cowards who abused him and his loved ones daily.

Xhaka was an employee that was paid to give his best for the crest. He did that.

He doesn’t have to pretend he loved the fans or agreed with their version of supporting.

I appreciate an adult treating adults like adults, and not kissing the badge and pretending he loves the club. It was his job, and he felt some Gooners were morons.

I respect that more than a false apology and reading out a statement he didn’t write. That’s what many in his position would have done, they would have succumbed to Unai Emery’s wishes.

One day Xhaka will return to the Emirates.

Not loved ……but I think he will return respected.

The man he is.

I think that means more to him.

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