Despite being just 21 and relatively inexperienced at senior international level, Granit Xhaka's superb shooting ability and impressive range of passing make the attacking midfielder the creative hub of the current Switzerland team.
Xhaka can play in defensive midfield as well as further forward, though the Borussia Monchengladbach man’s strengths are best utilised in the opposition half. Able to dictate the pace of a game with his use of the ball and a constant goal threat, these qualities have made coach Ottmar Hitzfeld liken him to another midfield maestro: “I see a lot of similarities between Granit and Bastian Schweinsteiger, whom I brought to FC Bayern Munich as an 18-year-old.”
Spending his childhood and early teen years at Concordia Basel and later FC Basel respectively, it soon became clear Xhaka was a special talent, and it was no surprise when he broke into to the Basel first team. After two successful seasons at the St. Jakob Park outfit, he transferred to Monchengladbach, signing a five-year deal in 2012.
The midfield schemer made his senior international debut on 4 June 2011 in a UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England at Wembley, having accumulated vast experience in the national youth set-up. This included victory at the FIFA U-17 World Cup Nigeria 2009 and second place at the UEFA U-21 European Championship 2011.
At the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ he could forge a central-midfield partnership with Bayern’s Xherdan Shaqiri, although he may face stiff competition for a starting spot from Eintracht Frankfurt’s Pirmin Schwegler. Whatever the outcome, it seems Hitzfeld will have a pleasant selection headache indeed.