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The US Sun
Arsenal set to extend Granit Xhaka’s deal by another year by popping clause in contract after stunning season
By Mark Irwin,
ARSENAL are ready to trigger a 12-month extension clause in Granit Xhaka’s contract to keep him at the Emirates until 2025.
The 30-year-old Swiss international has emerged as one of the most influential players in Mikel Arteta’s title-chasing squad this season.
Now Arteta wants to reward that contribution by effectively tying the player to Arsenal for the rest of his career.
And that decision will not be affected by the club‘s ambitious plans to launch an £80million bid for West Ham skipper Declan Rice in the summer.
Xhaka’s current deal is set to expire next year but there is an option already in place to extend to 2025 with the agreement of both parties.
And now that he is settled at the Emirates after all his previous problems, club officials are confident that there will be no problems convincing him to prolong his stay.
No-one appreciates Xhaka’s contribution more than Arteta, who has handed him a more attacking role in his team this season and picked him to start all but one of their Premier League games so far.
One of his first jobs on being appointed Arsenal manager in December 2019 was to persuade Xhaka to drop his plans to quit the club after being stripped of the captain’s armband by former boss Unai Emery.
Xhaka has endured a stormy relationship with the Emirates fans ever since they booed him off when he was subbed by Emery during a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace in October 2019.
But Arteta immediately recognised the player’s value on the pitch and in the dressing-room and handed him a lucrative new contract in 2020.
And now even the Emirates regulars have taken Xhaka to their hearts and sing his name on a regular basis.
Signed by Arsene Wenger in a £35m deal from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016, Xhaka is now one of the club’s longest-serving players.
And his experience and professionalism have been an important example for Arsenal’s young stars to follow.
Yet Arteta is still planning to bring in at least one more central midfield player this summer despite bringing in £13m Jorginho from Chelsea in January.
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The club only turned to Jorginho in the last days of the transfer window after a club record £75m bid for Brighton’s Moises Caicedo was rejected.
But now their primary target is England international Rice, who is also admired by Chelsea, Manchester United and Liverpool.
West Ham boss David Moyes has claimed it would take a British record fee in excess of £100m to convince the club to sell their 24-year-old captain.
But Rice is ready to test himself in the Champions League and knows that Arsenal are willing to make him a cornerstone of their plans.