Perhaps this is a common thing in football but it’s not something I’ve come across before. Unai Emery seems to have implemented the NFL model of having the players vote for five captains. The difference in American Football is they have several different position units and squads of 53+ men.
The whole idea of a captain in football is to have a player who unites the squad and inspires the rest of the team with their actions and performances. Obviously this makes Granit Xhaka the natural choice:
At Colney. Emery confirms his five captains are – in order – Xhaka, Aubameyang, Bellerin, Lacazette, Ozil.
– Says both Xhaka and the club’s challenge is to “change the opinion” about him among his critics.
— James Olley (@JamesOlley) September 27, 2019
It’s strange timing when you consider he was starting to turn things round and it looked quite positive at The Emirates recently. Xhaka has been booed by his own fans recently so you can’t imagine he’s a particularly popular choice as captain.
It’s also a huge red flag if the manager is appointing a captain while also challenging him to change people’s perceptions of him. The captain should be an established and obvious choice, not some sort of experiment where the player still needs to win people over.
Admittedly he’s fifth in the list but it’s also a surprise to see Mesut Ozil make the list. He hasn’t featured much recently and doesn’t look like an automatic choice in the team now anyway.
The real test will come when things start to go badly. Xhaka has the air of someone who would get sent off or make irresponsible decisions when the team are up against it. Perhaps this will be the making of him.