Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka revealed he was “very, very close” to leaving the club in January and has thanked head coach Mikel Arteta for giving him a second chance.
Xhaka appeared ready for departure after he was stripped of the captaincy in November for reacting angrily to fans who booed him when he was replaced during a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace the previous month.
The 27-year-old was also removed from the team for five games, but regained his place and, eight months later, is a regular member of the starting lineup again.
Last week, Arteta praised Xhaka for winning over the fan base with his displays on the field, but the former Borussia star Monchengladbach admitted that he seriously contemplated leaving.
“Everyone knows what happened to me and the fans, or the fans with me. It was not a good time. It wasn’t a good time, “he told BT Sport.
“But maybe it was the key because I came back stronger than ever, so I learned a lot from this situation. I hope the fans have too.
“I was always saying to myself, but also to fans, I am a guy who will go 100 percent in every game. People begin to understand me more and more now again.
“I have to be honest, I am very honest with everyone. I was very, very close to leaving the club. Until now, I had a great time at this football club.
“But after this, of course, I was a little bit depressed because I didn’t expect that from people, from fans.
“I never thought of leaving the club before, but after this happened, of course you do.”
Swiss international Xhaka has credited Arteta, who succeeded Unai Emery just under two months after the incident, for changing his career in North London.