Granit Xhaka is already settling into life at Bayer Leverkusen and has already started training, four days earlier than planned. Speaking in a media round on Friday, the Switzerland international discussed his first impressions of the team and the role that Xabi Alonso played in his decision to join the Bundesliga club.
On Alonso, Xhaka said: “He was a role model for every young player and still is today. He has a great personality and has had a great career. When I first had him on the phone, it was special for me.”
After played for Arsenal between 2016 and 2023, Xhaka made the switch to Bayer Leverkusen for a reported €25m, signing a five-year contract with Die Werkself. It’s a new challenge for the Swiss captain, who returns to Germany after playing for Borussia Mönchenlgadbach between 2012 and 2016.
Xhaka stated that he likes the way that Alonso plays and his philosophy and from then, “it was a quick decision” to join Bayer Leverkusen. On his first impressions at the club, Xhaka said: “It’s a big challenge, but I see a lot of potential. The team is alive and has a good team spirit.”
With the signing of Xhaka, Jonas Hofmann (€10m) and Alex Grimaldo (Free), Bayer Leverkusen are making a statement ahead of the 2023/24 season, even more so after rejecting Aston Villa’s opening offer of €45m for Moussa Diaby, a player whom they’ll want to keep although every player has a price.
GGFN | Daniel Pinder