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Granit Xhaka has lauded the role new Arsenal boss Unai Emery has played in his development this season and believes he is playing the best football of his career.
The Switzerland international was an often maligned figured under previous manager Arsene Wenger, but has started every single Premier League match for Emery and begun to forge an excellent partnership with Lucas Torreira.
He was also named as one of five captains by Emery and says that added trust has helped take his game to a new level.
‘It’s definitely my best season so far. Without doubt, I think I took another step forward,’ Xhaka told Aargauer Zeitung.
‘It was a great sign that the club extended my contract prematurely, until 2023. That was before the World Cup and it was a huge sign of how much they appreciate me. I realised, “Aha, I’m very important to the club.”
‘And then, of course, Unai Emery is an important reason. I didn’t have contact with him until after the World Cup.
‘When I returned for pre-season training, he told me, “Granit, you’re one of my five captains.” It’s one of the top ten clubs in the world, so that makes you proud and gives you confidence.’
Xhaka describes Emery as a ‘freak’ in training (Picture: Getty) He continued: ‘It’s the best it’s been at Arsenal since I came to this club. The coach has had an enormous influence. ‘He prepares us all superbly.
We have a plan. We know how to implement it with the ball and without the ball. We know how, when and where to stand.
‘Emery is like Lucien Favre, a freak who pushes us back and forth, ten times until everyone understands what they are doing.’