‘Willian knows how to win titles’: Arsenal’s new recruit can inspire his team-mates to challenge Liverpool for the biggest prize, insists Granit Xhaka as they prepare to lock horns with dominant reigning champions
- Granit Xhaka is in confident mood ahead of Arsenal’s fixture at Anfield
- He believes the Gunners have a squad that can now challenge the top four
- Key to Arsenal’s season will be a tough mentality, as well as quality, says Xhaka
- But they have a long way to go after trailing Liverpool by 43 points last term
Granit Xhaka believes the strong mentality of new signings Willian and Gabriel Magalhaes is already rubbing off on their new Arsenal team-mates.
Willian arrived on a free transfer from rivals Chelsea while Gabriel was signed from Lille for £27m, and in particular Xhaka picked out the Brazil international as a man ‘who knows how to win titles’.
He hopes their contributions, along with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who was persuaded to sign a massive new £350,000-a-week contract at the Emirates, can see Arsenal take on the top four this season.
Willian has brought quality, but also a tough mentality, to Arsenal, says Granit Xhaka
Fellow new boy Gabriel Magalhaes (left) has also been highlighted by Xhaka for his influence
‘With Willian and Gabriel, Arsenal brought a lot of quality and mentality into the dressing room. Willian knows how to win titles,’ Xhaka said to Goal.com.
The Gunners finished a disappointing eighth in the Premier League last season, trailing Liverpool by 43 points and scraping into the Europa League after winning the FA Cup.
But Xhaka, who looked set to leave Arsenal at the beginning of last season when he reacted angrily to being booed by his own fans during Unai Emery’s ill-fated reign, has set his sights higher this term.
‘The extension with Aubameyang was an important signal for all of us – we want to go back to the Champions League,’ he added.
The player is in confident mood and has heaped praise on manager Mikel Arteta for his smart recruitment, as well as the Spaniard’s approach, which is steadily transforming Arsenal into a force to be reckoned with.
‘One thing is certain, I wouldn’t be in London without him,’ said Xhaka.
Xhaka (left) believes Arsenal can push for the Champions League this season with their new recruits, with Willian bringing even more creativity and fight to Arsenal’s forward line
Manager Mikel Arteta (right) has made smart moves in the transfer market to strengthen
‘He was the decisive factor, with his philosophy, with his style, with his idea. I am really grateful to him for that.’
But after victories over Fulham and West Ham in the Premier League this season, tonight’s visit to the runaway champions, Liverpool, will be a true test of how far Arsenal have come.
Meanwhile, the club continues its pursuit of further reinforcements as they prepare a significantly improved second bid for Lyon’s talented midfielder Houssem Aouar.
The Gunners are determined to sign the 22-year-old this summer and are set to raise their dismissed £32m offer to £36.5m with a further £9m in bonuses in a hope to secure their man, according to football.london.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s new contract will boost Arsenal’s bid for a top-four finish