Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka is a talented player but a conflicted person, apparently on and off the pitch.
24 hours after he was sent off during his team’s 2-1 victory in the Premier League, the Swiss was involved in another incident, this time potentially more serious than just the small matter of missing a couple of games.
The Arsenal midfielder was reportedly interviewed under caution by police following an allegation he racially abused an airline staff member at Heathrow on Monday night.
The Switzerland international is believed to have been with a friend who had visited him in London and was returning home.
The friend was understood to have arrived late for his flight back to Germany and was not allowed to board and Xhaka was at this point infuriated and allegedly racially abused a member of the airline staff.
Arsenal have declined to comment other than to say it is a private matter that is now in the hands of the police.
However, beyond the decision of the club not to comment on this latest infraction by the player, there are underlying currents capable of bursting to the surface at anytime if Xhaka’s issue is not decisively addressed.
Already there are reports of an impending showdown talks between Arsene Wenger and the player whom he had accused of punishing the team each time he gets himself into avoidable trouble on the pitch.
Xhaka is undoubtedly gifted. One of the better performers in his position in the Premier League so far this season. But like all gifted but troubled prodigies, the 24-year old risks throwing his talents down the drain if he doesn’t keep his temper in check.
One day, one trouble will not a great career make. Xhaka must take a very hard look in the mirror and decide if he likes the man staring back at him.
Will he be willing to become a truly great midfielder – which his talent suggests he can be – or will he be contented to be just another player in the midst of millions with nothing to stand him out?
The call is his alone to make but Arsenal must help him make the decision if he wants to stay and achieve great things at the club or if his stay could continue to hurt the team.
By the way, for stats freaks, Sunday’s sending off was the ninth red card shown to Xhaka in the last three years.