Arsenal have confirmed Granit Xhaka Exit the club to join Bayer Leverkusen on a permanent deal.
The Switzerland international departs the Gunners after a turbulent seven-year spell and has signed a five-year contract with Xabi Alonso‘s side until the summer of 2028.
Leverkusen are believed to have paid a €25m (£21.4m) fee for the 30-year-old, who only had a year left to run on his contract with Arsenal.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta – who previously downplayed claims that Xhaka was set to leave the club – paid tribute to the “fantastic” midfielder as he prepares to return to the Bundesliga.
“We are saying goodbye to a fantastic player and person loved by all of us. It has been an incredible journey together for him and he has given absolutely everything for this club,” Arteta told arsenal.com.
“The influence Granit has had on his team mates on the pitch and colleagues at the club, will tell you just how popular he is.
“We cannot thank Granit enough for his service and contribution to this club over the years. We wish Granit and his family all the best in the next step of their lives.”
Sporting director Edu also paid tribute to Xhaka’s contributions, adding: “Granit has been a big part of our club for a long time. He has given us great commitment and quality over the years, playing such an important role in our progression and success. He leaves us with our huge respect and thanks. We wish Granit all the best for the future.”
Xhaka bids farewell to the Emirates faithful after contributing 23 goals and 29 assists in 297 matches for Arsenal since being signed by Arsene Wenger in a €45m (£38.4m) deal from Borussia Monchengladbach in 2016.
The Switzerland captain won two FA Cups and two Community Shields with the North London club and enjoyed his best season in the 2022-23 campaign from a statistical point of view, scoring seven goals and setting up seven more in 37 Premier League matches as Arsenal finished second in the table.
Xhaka was appointed captain in 2019 following the departure of Laurent Koscielny, but he was stripped of the armband only a few months later in the wake of an explosive outburst towards the fans.
During a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace at the Emirates, Arsenal fans jeered as Xhaka was substituted, and the Switzerland man reacted by swearing at the crowd and storming down the tunnel.
Xhaka’s time at Arsenal was seemingly over at that point, but Arteta convinced the midfielder to stay at the club, and he enjoyed an unexpected redemption arc under the Spaniard’s wing.
Speaking for the first time as a Leverkusen player, Xhaka said: “I know the league inside out and I watched it when I was in London. Bayer 04 is a club with an impressive history and ambitious targets.
“Above all, I see it as a club with a great future. Discussions with the management have been incredibly motivating. Everybody here is ambitious and wants to achieve something – I’m very much looking forward to the next few years.”
Xhaka follows Pablo Mari and Ainsley Maitland-Niles out of the exit door at Arsenal this summer, as the Gunners close in on the £105m arrival of Declan Rice from West Ham United.