Xhaka was 'very close' to joining Mourinho at Roma

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Granit Xhaka has revealed he was "very close" to leaving Arsenal and joining Roma last year.

Xhaka was strongly linked with a move to the Eternal City following the appointment of Jose Mourinho as Giallorossi boss last May.

The Switzerland midfielder has confirmed he almost made the switch to the Serie A club, but the Gunners decided they wanted to keep him.

"It was something, yes," he told ESPN.

Asked how close he came to becoming a Roma player, he replied: "Very close."

When quizzed why the transfer did not come to fruition, he said: "Because Mikel [Arsenal head coach Arteta] was the guy with [technical director] Edu, they didn't let me go because they wanted to keep me here.

"Of course, my first reaction was to stay at the football club, but they opened the door: 'If something comes, I can leave.' I have to be honest as well. I don't want to say a name now, but the door was open for me to leave the club as well. But in the end, people decided to keep me here."

Xhaka instead signed a new deal with the London club until 2024 and the 29-year-old is delighted he remained with the Gunners.

He added: "I am very happy here. My family is very happy here. I have a contract for another two years, it is true. I will be 30 in September, but I don't believe in age.

"You can be 18, you can be 90, you can be 35. If you have the quality, you can play. We had a lot of people who were here as well – David Luiz for example – who had an amazing career, 33, 34, 35, he is even playing now.

"That's why age is only a number for me. As long as I am fit, as long as I can help the team, I will try to do everything. When the moment comes, I can't do that, I am the first to say to the club: 'I am not ready to do that.'"

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