Granit Xhaka is Jason Bourne

What’s his secret?
An open book by comparison

I made a throwaway reference yesterday to Xhaka’s Arsenal career having all the ups and downs of a Jason Bourne novel.

Dwelling on that idea later, I thought there might be more substance to it than I had realised so, based on the Bourne movies, here is the real story of Granit Xhaka.

The Xhaka Identity (2016)

A bewildered Xhaka is found floating in the canal at Camden Lock. He has no memory and his identity is a mystery, but he is taken to N5 and placed in the care of Arsenal. The team’s supporters are equally confused about his identity: is he the out-and-out defensive midfielder we have been craving, the new Gilberto? Some think so. Even his name is redolent of solidity and strength, granite being the hardest b*stard in the family of rocks. Other fans have heard he is a box to box playmaker in the Vieira mould. We wait with baited breath… and when Xhaka gets some game time the mystery only deepens. We remain unsure what he actually is, although we have gained one clue to his true identity – we have discovered his favourite hobbies: collecting red and yellow cards and diving feet first at any opposition player who happens to be passing by.

The Xhaka Supremacy (2018)

Xhaka’s true identity remains a mystery, but one person seems to know more than he’s letting on. That person is his handler, Arsene Wenger. While supporters question Xhaka’s actions and remain unsure as to what exactly he does for the team, Wenger continues to pick him for every game. Does Xhaka have some dirt on Wenger? Is the plot bigger than both of them? The drama continues.

The Xhaka Ultimatum (2019)

In a long-awaited plot twist Xhaka’s long-time handler, Arsene Wenger, is removed from the picture and a new handler is brought in. His name reads like a secret code scrambled through an Enigma machine: Unai Emery. Supporters hold their breath. Is this the end for our hero’s turbulent journey? Will he finally have to reveal his true identity (as a slightly leaden-footed journeyman best suited to a Swiss mid table side)? But no! It’s a case of “meet the new boss, same as the old boss” and Xhaka is, once again, first name on the team sheet. But more is to come. There is a vacancy within The Agency (Arsenal FC to you). A new captain is needed. Unai Enigma is playing games within games and throws the decision onto the players themselves, telling them they must vote for their new captain. Of course, it’s a foregone conclusion: with a little manipulation, some mind games and a couple of strategic assassinations, Xhaka is a shoo-in for the job. But this is drama, and things change fast. Supporters are becoming increasingly frustrated with not knowing Xhaka’s true identity and it all comes to a head in a game against Crystal Palace. Xhaka is substituted (“de-activated”, to use the proper jargon), sulks and storms off. He is stripped of the armband and fans issue an ultimatum: never let that man play for us again. It seems the story is over. But…

The Xhaka Redemption (2021)

Somehow, somewhere, Xhaka survives. He stays in the shadows, emerging only occasionally to defend his actions on social media. Then his latest handler is brutally bumped off and a new Mr Big comes in, a man with plastic hair and a fierce demeanour. Surely the arrival of Mikel Arteta will mean the end of Xhaka? But no! Once again Xhaka is installed in the team and, bit by bit, his performances get better and better until here we are now. We supporters still have no idea of his true identity, yet somehow we all agree he should be in the starting line-up. Against all odds Granit Xhaka looks to have come out on top. But will he have the classic Hollywood Ending? For that, we’ll have to wait for the final movie in the series, still in production and due out in 2022…

The Xhaka Legacy (2022)

When Granit Xhaka goes back undercover, or hands in his weapon to the armourer for the final time (those boots that proved so lethal when diving in), we will be forced to confront his legacy. Who was he? What was he? Even at the time of writing his honours are impressive: two FA Cup winners’ medals, runners-up medals in the League Cup and Europa League, two-time FA Community Shield winner. But could the best be yet to come? Grab your popcorn and pull up a chair…



25 Responses to Granit Xhaka is Jason Bourne

  1. TotalArsenal says:

    A masterpiece, Rocky.

  2. RC78 says:

    Rocky – I think we need to build a statue for you outside the Emirates. This is clearly one of your wittiest post! What a pleasure to read.

    I am hoping that Xhaka finally found his cruising speed with us. His performances have been good since Boxing day and he is a starter for sure these days. I wish he would be at times more adventurous with his passes and also by taking more long shots. He is got a wicked long shot but we hardly see it. Sometimes, he finishes games without a single key pass or a single attempted shot. Obviously, his decision making for the key pass and long shot has to be great but given his recent form, I would trust him to make a good choice.

    That said and with Willock struggling, Ceballos, Guendouzi and Torreira most likely not coming back and with El Neny more suited for defensive duties, I think Arteta will look for a Central Midfield in the summer. Whether he goes for a very defensive midfielder or someone that is more rounded remains a mystery….

    In any case, I am happy to see Xhaka having a good run with us.

  3. RA says:

    Cleverly written, Rocky.

    I was expecting/hoping that when we bought Granit his name did indeed lead me to think he was going to fill a hole in the Arsenal midfield with physicality, skill, and a no-nonsense approach. And, at first he seemed all of that.

    Then the silly tackles, and the histrionics leading to yellow and red cards letting down the team started.

    I have always been puzzled by him – I thought he was great, at first — then I thought he was anything but – then he played really well — then that nonsense with insulting the fans — he was poor at the beginning of this season, along with everyone else – then recently he has played really well.

    What to make of him? I don’t know — but in the background there is the feeling that he is just not reliable.

  4. Pete the Thirst says:

    Lol Rocky

    Have you been on the Wacky Xhaky this weekend? Gets the creative juices flowing

  5. RockyLives says:

    “Wacky Xhaky” 😀

  6. Sue says:

    Mustafi to Schalke…or have I had too much of Rocky’s Wacky Xhaky??

  7. RockyLives says:

    Looks like it’s possible Sue, but depends on Scalke letting a young CB go to Liverpool.

    It’s probably a more plausible move than Mustafi to Liverpool, which was being mooted last week.

  8. Jnyc says:

    Super creative post Rocky.
    Something not mentioned by fans often enough is the one thing that really sets Xhaka apart. That sublime left foot. In both accuracy, power, and even touch. After that, for me, I’m impressed by how he can play so many matches without rest. He’s had to do that because the managers see value in him. I worry about him straying too far forward, because he can’t really get back fast enough, and that’s where the fouls come in.

    Like RC I’d like to see both Xhaka, and Party shoot more from outside the box. I would prefer those over those wasted Bellerin type high crosses we were attempting constantly, that yield us absolutely nothing.

    Between Xhaka and Partey we’d get more goals, but even more fruitful, we’d force defenders out from crowding the box to close them down. You know that would open things up for ESR (and maybe Odegaard) slick one touch passes, to Laca, Auba and others. Also I’d have Xhaka on free kicks whenever possible. He’s scored at least 3 beauties for us, and I’ve also noticed, that even when he misses them, it’s not by much.

  9. RC78 says:

    1. AMN to WBA on loan until the end of the season! Good luck AMN, come back stronger!

    2. Willock potentially moving to Newcastle on loan too…

    3. Mustafi to Schalke less likely by the minute but still a chance

  10. RC78 says:

    Apparently all 3 deals are done…waiting to be official now…

  11. RC78 says:

    Leno, Ryan, Runnarsson
    Bellerin, Cedric, Holding, Luiz, Gabriel, Mari, Tierney, RECRUIT
    El Neny, Xhaka, Partey, Ceba
    Saka, Pepe, ESR, Odegaard, Martinelli, Willian, Nelsson
    Auba, Laca, Nketiah, Balogun

    Only questions marks are for Nelsson and who the left back will be. Otherwise, the team for the second half of the season is there and kuddos to Edu and Arteta for trimming the squad down for the second half of the season with:

    – Saliba, AMN, Willock on loan
    – Ozil, Sok and Mustafi’s contract termination.

  12. RA says:


    Mustafi’s contract has been mutually cancelled, so he can go to Schalke as a free agent, even after the closure of the Bundesliga transfer window,

    As a free agent he is not bound by the transfer rules.

  13. RA says:


    Great comment @ 4:23.

  14. RA says:

    I have been a bit gloomy about the news that 19 y.o New Yorker, Balogun, seems destined to move to Germany rather than extend his contract/career with us.

    I have just realised that he is the captain of the U 23s team — and he is scoring well — sounds like it is not all over, yet.

    Come on Ball – sign the deal – you know it makes sense. 😁

  15. RA says:

    Ball = Balo 😜

  16. RC78 says:

    Balogun will stay until the end of the season. I d rather bet on him than Nketiah. Nketiah is good but I think Balogun will be better. He brings smt else to the squad at the CF position – quick feet and very good vertical runs. Nketiah is a good squad player but I think it is easier to find a replacement for him, if needed. We d do well to get a Giroud type of player in the squad as well so let s sell Nketiah imho and keep Balo.

  17. Rasp says:

    You are a clever so-and-so Rocky. That is just brilliant.

    I for one have to hold my hand up and admit I reached the point after the sending off where I wished I’d never see him in the shirt again. But he has proved me wrong with his recent performances. The coaching staff have to take a lot of credit. If he can continue to play like this alongside Partey (was that the missing ingredient all the time?) then I will be looking forward to The Xhaka re-Bourne Testimonial.

  18. LB says:

    I am unable to comment as I do not now who Jason Bourne is or who he played for………….

  19. RockyLives says:

    He was the back-up left back for Orient in the mid 80s.

  20. RC78 says:

    @rockylives – I will prepare smt for tomorrow.

    In the meantime, Mustafi’s exit has been confirmed:
    Contracts terminated:
    – Ozil out
    – Sok out
    – Mus out

    Loaned out:
    – Saliba, Zedley
    – AMN (WBA) and Willock (Newcastle), most likely

  21. RockyLives says:

    Excellent- thanks RC

  22. LB says:


    I thought is would be something as obscure as Orient.

  23. LB says:

    I see both those loans as good ideas, Willock should get some more playing time and AMN is going to be thrown in at the coal face and should benefit from the no nonsense management of Allardyce.

    They both have the opportunity to come back an sit on fluffy cushions at Arsenal at the end of the season.

  24. RC78 says:

    Confirmed AMN to WBA and Willock to Newcastle

    If only Nketiah could have also been loaned out to give Balo some assurances that he will be in the mix with us…

    Not sure if we will hear smt about a left back joining us…

  25. RC78 says:

    New post

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