Right now, though, Xhaka is thriving in north London. Last season was arguably his best for the club and it is why he cannot wait for what comes next.
“We are building something very special here with the project with Mikel [Arteta] and stuff like this,” he tells Standard Sport.
“It’s a shame I only have two years more on my contract. Let’s see what happens after two years. But I am seeing a big, big future for this club.
“[Arteta] is the reason why I’m still at this football club. All of the club knows why I am still here, because three years ago I was gone.
“I didn’t speak with family, with nobody, and normally I don’t do that. But I said, ‘Okay, Mikel – I will stay for you.’ And I’m still here.”
Xhaka may no longer be the captain at Arsenal, but he remains a leader in the dressing room and one of Arteta’s trusted lieutenants.
Martin Odegaard is the new club skipper, however Arsenal are once again using a leadership group to support the role. It is something Arteta has brought in, with both the Spaniard and Xhaka believing people in England place too much importance on who wears the armband.
“Of course you don’t need [the armband]. Everyone can see the leaders in this team,” Xhaka says. “Of course you need a captain for the team when we need him. But I don’t believe a lot in the armband.
“At the moment I have a feeling that it’s not only one but a lot of people who are so good in this team, who you can speak with and they will help you. This is what makes a big difference at the moment.”
Those in the Arsenal dressing room certainly value Xhaka’s role and his importance is not overlooked.
“He’s integral to our group, playing or not playing,” says goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale. “When he was injured at the start of last season, you could feel his presence in the changing room. You can feel his presence when he’s playing.
“I think the captaincy is blown out of proportion. That comes from what’s happened here with having a few captains in the last few years.”
Xhaka may only be 29 but given all he has experienced, and the fact that the Arsenal squad is so young, he has taken on a paternal role.
“English people, they put you like a grandfather, I’m 29 man! I don’t feel like a grandfather but if I feel the guys like 18, 17 they come up I feel sometimes: ‘F**** me … 29’,” remarks Xhaka.
I’m doing my coaching licence… I told Mikel to be careful!
“No it’s a joke. I feel very good. After what happened with me two and a half, three years ago I tried to come back as strong as possible with the new guys as well. I give them respect. They give me respect as well.
“I try to treat everyone the same, it doesn’t matter the age. For me the age is only a number.”
Given the influence he clearly has, it is little surprise to learn that Xhaka is thinking about becoming a coach one day.
“I’m doing my licence,” he says. “I told Mikel to be careful…”
Before that, however, the midfielder is hoping to enjoy the “special” project Arsenal are building under Arteta.
Last season he noticed a change in his relationship with supporters and his goal against Manchester United during a 3-1 win in April is a career highlight.
“It was maybe one of the greatest moments since signing for this club,” he says. “Everyone now knows what happened three years ago. Sitting here three years later and to say this was one of the greatest moments, three years ago I would have said this would never, ever happen.
“But I feel much more love from the fans, from my side as well. I am trying to build something with them again. It needs time, for sure, but I have the feeling that we are in a good way, for sure.”
As Xhaka says, that bond with Arsenal fans is growing again after looking as though it had been broken beyond repair three years ago.
In Amazon Prime Video’s new docuseries, ‘All or Nothing: Arsenal’, Xhaka opens up even further as he lets the cameras into his family home. It shows a side to him fans rarely see and the hope is the bond with supporters will strengthen even more as a result.
“They asked me if I was happy to do that. For me it is fine because I have nothing to hide,” he says.
“I am Granit here and the same like at home. Only on the football pitch do I have a different mask.”