Granit Xhaka (Albanian pronunciation: ; born 27 September 1992) is a Swiss professional footballer who plays as a midfielder for English club Arsenal and the Switzerland national team. Swiss national manager Ottmar Hitzfeld once dubbed him the "young Schweinsteiger", while former Arsenal defender Johan Djourou has praised his tackling, versatility, and physicality.
Xhaka began his career at hometown club Basel, winning the Swiss Super League in both of his seasons. He then moved to Bundesliga team Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2012, playing 140 official games and scoring nine goals.
He has been a full international for Switzerland since 2011, gaining more than 40 caps. He was included in their squad for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2016.
Xhaka was born in Basel, Switzerland to Kosovo Albanian parents and is the younger brother of Taulant Xhaka, who is also a professional footballer and plays for the Albania national football team and played against Granit in the second Euro 2016 match. Their family moved from Kosovo to Switzerland shortly before their children were born.
The brothers started their youth football by Concordia Basel and both moved to Basel in 2002. Xhaka played for various Basel youth teams and since 2008 has been a member of the U-21 squad. Between 2008 and 2010 he played 37 games for the U-21 team, scoring eleven goals.
Before making his international debut for Switzerland, Xhaka was still undecided whether to play for his birth country or Albania, and he complained to the Albanian sports media that FSHF was ignoring him while the Swiss Football Association was showing much more interest.
Xhaka debuted for Switzerland at Wembley Stadium against England, in a 2–2 UEFA Euro 2012 qualification draw on 4 June 2011. On 15 November of the same year, during his sixth international appearance, he scored his first international goal in the 1–0 away win against Luxembourg in Stade Josy Barthel.
Switzerland also tried to select him to participate in the 2012 Olympic Football tournament, but he opted to stay at his new club for pre-season training. Xhaka participated in all ten of Switzerland's 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign matches, scoring both goals in a 2–0 defeat of Slovenia.
On 2 June 2014, Xhaka was named in Switzerland's 2014 FIFA World Cup squad by national coach Ottmar Hitzfeld. In the team's second match, Xhaka scored in a 5–2 loss to France.
Xhaka was selected for UEFA Euro 2016, where Switzerland's campaign opened against Albania in Lens. Xhaka, whose team won 1–0, was playing against his own brother while their mother watched from the crowd in a t-shirt blending the two nations' flags. He was voted the man of the match. Xhaka played every minute of Switzerland's campaign, which ended in the last 16 with a loss to Poland at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard; after a 1–1 draw he was the only player to not score in the penalty shootout, shooting wide.
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