Former Arsenal captain Patrick Vieira has leapt to the defence of Granit Xhaka, saying he “deserves respect”.

The 27-year-old Switzerland international was stripped of the captaincy following an altercation with fans against Crystal Palace and has not featured for the first team since.

Despite manager Unai Emery suggesting the player may never play for the club again, Nice head coach Vieira is more sympathetic.

”I feel sorry for him because he [was] the captain and he’s going through a really difficult period and really difficult time at Arsenal,” Vieira said.

“I think we have to remind ourselves that he’s achieved a lot since he’s at Arsenal and he deserves a lot of respect.

“When you’re a player and don’t perform the way you expect, you get frustrated about yourself. And sometimes you say things or do things you regret.

“I find it really difficult a lot of ex-footballers have jumped on him and being really negative towards him – it’s too too easy.

“I know how good he is and he will come through this difficult period because he’s a strong man, he’s a good player. And he will show how good he is.”

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