Mikel Arteta says players must be allowed to speak their minds when in front of media after Granit Xhaka’s controversial interview in which he called out his Arsenal teammates.
Following the Gunners’ 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United on Monday, which took a top-four finish out of their hands, the midfielder insisted the club need players who ‘have the balls’.
‘What happened was a disaster performance. You don’t deserve to play Champions League or even to play Europa League,’ said Xhaka.
‘If someone is not ready for this game, stay at home. It doesn’t matter their age, they can be 30, they can be 35, they can be 18, if you’re not ready for that, if you’re nervous, stay on the bench, stay at home, don’t come here.
‘We need people who have the balls.’
When quizzed on Xhaka’s comments, Arteta told reporters: ‘What we do in the dressing room we don’t comment on it.
When you allow someone in front of a microphone it’s to express what their feelings are.
‘You have to ask the question to him exactly what he meant or who he was pointing at. The comments are clear.
‘I prefer not to comment too much on that, but when you allow people to speak in front of the media you have to allow them to say what they feel. Knowing Granit, that’s what he felt.’
On if he’s spoken to Xhaka, he added: ‘We always talk.’
The Gunners are two points behind Tottenham going into their final game of the season against Everton at the Emirates Stadium.
They will need Norwich City to beat their north London rivals at Carrow Road and win themselves against the Toffees in order to claim fourth spot and a return to the Champions League.