Mikel Arteta says it was never in Arsenal’s plans to allow Granit Xhaka to leave this summer.
The midfielder was heavily linked with a move to AS Roma this summer with Jose Mourinho reportedly keen to take him to Italy.
In fact, at more than one stage, it was reported that Xhaka was all-but gone, willing to give up money to make the move happened.
But since then, a lot has changed, and Xhaka has extended his contract by a further year, captaining Arsenal for their disappointing opening defeat of the Premier League season against Brentford.
And Arteta has explained how the situation came about and how, despite reports, Arsenal were never interested in losing the midfielder.
“We never wanted to let him go,” he said, as cited by the Mirror. “We explained to him the role he would have in the team, how important he was and how far he has come in the last two seasons.
“And the fact that he has come through some difficult moments and how he has reacted and achieved and the respect he has gained, not only on the field, but around the club and in that dressing room.
“We believe that he was a really important figure and we need players like that for the development of the young players we have.
“It’s difficult because you don’t get to see much of what happens inside.
“People just analyse a performance or a way of a player playing and whether you like him more or less. But from our side there is no doubting his importance in the team and squad.”
Xhaka played a key role for Arsenal last season, anchoring the midfield and even stepping in at left-back amid injury troubles for Kieran Tierney.
He will continue to play a key role this season, too, and beyond having extended his contract to keep him in place at the Emirates Stadium until at least 2024 with the option of a further year.