Granit Xhaka puts the blame for his accumulation of cards on Bundesliga coaches. He doesn't believe he would have so many cards in England, a destination from which he admits would be difficult to refuse an offer.
Borussia Mönchengladbach's Granit Xhaka has certainly earned a reputation this season, collecting six yellow cards and three red cards in the Bundesliga. That reputation is what coaches are exploiting and provoking, at least that is what he told "Sport Bild" in an interview the German magazine published on Wednesday.
"I know that there are coaches in the Bundesliga that have said in team meetings: Provoke Xhaka, he will eventually go ballistic," Xhaka said. "I think that is sad. That in my view has nothing to do with football."
"I can laugh over insults, that is part of [the game]," he said. "But when someone steps on your foot ten times, puts a boot in again and again, provokes you for 90 minutes - then it is hard to stay calm. It makes me angry because there are other ways to belabor opponents."
Granit Xhaka will be back on the field this weekend against Hamburg after receiving a red card against Darmstadt in December.
His most recent sending off came against Darmstadt when he received a second yellow for an open-field challenge on Peter Niemeyer. That lead to a three-match suspension for the the Swiss international, the last of which he served last Friday in Gladbach's 5-1 victory over Werder Bremen. Xhaka will once again be eligible to play in the Foals match against Hamburg this weekend.
"I know that I am not allowed to do those things like against Darmstadt. But I am a young man. If a 50-year-old makes mistakes, then I am allowed to as well."
Coaches are not only to blame, but players as well, according to Xhaka. The Gladbach midfielder went so far as to call out the softness of Bundesliga players. "By the way, I believe that I would not have so many cards in England," he said. "There are also not as many players who provoke and roll on the ground after a nudge."
Still the captain, but for how long?
The irony of Xhaka's disciplinary issues is he remains the captain of the current Gladbach squad. Despite his track record, Andre Schubert does not intend to strip the captaincy away from him. "The coach came to me in the winter break and said that I am still his captain," Xhaka said to "Sport Bild". "Therefore I assume I will play in Hamburg and will wear the arm band."
His captaincy does not mean his future is necessarily in Mönchengladbach though. Several clubs are reportedly looking to poach the 23-year-old midfielder from the Foals. Though he does not know where he will end up after the upcoming summer transfer window, he can rule out one destination: China, where Jackson Martinez and Alex Teixeira recently made record-breaking moves to the Chinese Super League.
"I can only speak for me, but I would never go to China at my age, not for all the money in the world," Xhaka said.
Granit Xhaka played Manchester City twice in the Champions League, and he admits it would be hard to refuse an offer to join them.
Nonetheless, he understands clubs are scouting him to potentially approach him in the summer. England is a widely speculated destination, but there are certain factors he admits he is taking into account. "Honestly, in football, you don't often experience such a positive mood, such cooperation like we have in our [Gladbach] team. That also counts," Xhaka said. "And when you want to make the next step, it also needs to be an improvement."
"But logically it is hard to say no when Manchester City wants you and you can play there," he continued. "I will openly admit that, and that is not only for me."
He insists even if he does leave, Gladbach will not fall apart in his absence. "No, Borussia is not falling apart. It does not matter whichever players will leave. That is what the past has showed. The club has developed and actually improved despite big name players leaving."