Granit Xhaka has endured.
The Swiss midfielder has put up with being given instructions on the pitch that contradict his strengths.
Xhaka has given his all while playing out of position.
The midfielder has seen his teammates take all the plaudits as Arsenal have risen from the doldrums.
He has had the armband stripped away.
Hell, he has even taken on the hecklers, the thousands who booed him.
And in our current midfield, Xhaka has outlasted his midfield brethren and is perhaps the first name on the teamsheet.
Granit Xhaka has the character and mental strength of ten men – and it’s time we finally realised how effective he is for Arsenal.
Look at the facts.
Thomas Partey was recruited with a big fanfare and even bigger reputation. The Ghanaian was a monster at Atletico and a different beast altogether for his country, but effective in a different way.
But his Arsenal career has a shadow over it – his injury record leaves his appearance percentage hovering around the halfway mark.
Not good enough for a pillar of the team.
Meanwhile, Xhaka was persuaded to stay by Arteta, the Spaniard keen to lean on the Swiss midfielder’s leadership and athleticism.
And he has quietly gone about his business, playing nearly every game and showing his value to the team plan.
His defensive diligence was always questioned, but a different responsibility is now bestowed upon him. Xhaka is further forward, using his vision and passing, as well as his strength to burst into the box or make forays forward to gain yards.
But that doesn’t mean he is recovering the ball less, or tracking. But instead of being a defensive bastion, Xhaka is now covering more of the pitch and helping in the final third and the defensive third when necessary.
And armband or not, Xhaka is still a leader on the pitch. His impassioned speech after our Newcastle capitulation last season was without façade – the disappointment was etched across his face and he expected better.
We all did. But Xhaka has used this as fuel to push further, harder. He has been as vital as Jesus, as critical to our mission as Saka, as useful as Ben White or Saliba.
Xhaka has shown he is the midfielder we needed – he just needed a coach that used his strengths instead of just his hunger to win. Under Emery, Xhaka was viewed as a DM – but he’s so much more than that.
Instead of searching for a Xhaka replacement, we now need to search for a partner for Xhaka.