Xhaka: My style is aggressive. If I can’t play that way, I lose my quality

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka has told FourFourTwo that he has no plans to curb the physical part of his game.

The tough-tackling enforcer arrived at the Emirates Stadium from Borussia Monchengladbach last summer with a reputation for accruing cards, with his October dismissal against Swansea his seventh career sending-off since April 2014.

But the Switzerland international has no intention of taking the sting out of his play, stating that a change in style would have an adverse affect on his quality.

I have received a lot of red cards – that’s what I’m known for – but I am that kind of player. If I can’t play that way I lose my quality

Speaking exclusively in the February 2017 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, the 24-year-old says: “I have been booked many times and received a lot of red cards – that’s what I’m known for – but I am that kind of player. If I can’t play that way I lose a lot of my quality. It’s not a question of discipline – my style of play is aggressive, and that means I sometimes get into trouble.”

Xhaka has endeared himself to the Gunners’ faithful with long-range goals against Hull and Nottingham Forest, and he admits that is was a simple decision to sign for the English capital club. But seeing London’s sights isn’t high on his to-do list...

I didn’t come to London to visit the city. I’m here because of my football career, and that’s much more important than the city. I’m not 12 years old any more. Nobody needs to show me

“I was in contact with Arsene Wenger for a long time, so it was an easy decision for me,” he says. “He was one of the main reasons why I wanted to come to Arsenal. And the club is famous for playing some fast, attractive, technical football, which suits my game.

“I didn’t come to London to visit the city. I’m here because of my football career, and that’s much more important than the city. I’m not 12 years old any more. Nobody needs to show me [around]. I can visit the city alone.”

Read the full interview with Granit Xhaka in the February 2017 issue of FourFourTwo magazine, which focuses on Arsenal’s dynamic duo, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, and remembers 31 other potent partnerships from years gone by. Also this month: 26 mental moments from Africa Cup of Nations history, the unbelievable true story of East German football, a visit to Canada for the MLS Cup final, and exclusive chats with Sevilla midfielder Steven N'Zonzi, former Liverpool attacker Dirk Kuyt and Leatherhead manager Jimmy Bullard. Go get it, then subscribe!

Portraits: Leon Csernohlavek