GRANIT XHAKA refused to back down and apologise to Arsenal fans.
That is despite a begging phone call from his manager Unai Emery yesterday.
Xhaka, 27, infuriated supporters when he trudged off the pitch at the Emirates on Sunday, despite his side drawing 2-2 with Crystal Palace.
As the boos and jeers grew, the Swiss international sarcastically waved his arms and then cupped his ear, riling the home faithful.
He then proceeded to tell them to “f*** off”, took off his shirt and marched down the tunnel.
Emery criticised the players behaviour and insisted: “His reaction was wrong.”
Arsenal launched a disciplinary inquiry into Xhakas antics but plans any plans to strip him of the armband – given to him after a squad poll – could lead to a dressing-room revolt.
It is not the first time an Arsenal captain has failed to set the example expected with Laurent Koscielny forcing a move in the summer and the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie forcing moves away from North London.
A number of senior Arsenal players are appalled at the brutal treatment which Xhaka has received from the clubs fanbase.
And the comments from Emery were also unpopular, with many believing the manager should have backed his captain in the media.
Lucas Torreira was almost in tears when Xhaka was booed off and at least two players visited the captains house on Sunday night to give him their personal support.
Full-back Hector Bellerin took to Twitter to issue a rallying cry and was the first Gunners star to break their silence.
He said: We are all human, we have emotions and sometimes its not easy dealing with them.
Its time to lift each other up, not push each other away. We only win when we are together.
Unsurprisingly, Xhaka’s move infuriated pundits and fans alike, with Piers Morgan labelling Xhaka an “absolute disgrace”.
SunSport columnist Alan Shearer is unsure how the midfielder recovers from this – but knows saying sorry must be the starting point.
He wrote: “It will be toxic at Arsenal if Unai Emery picks him again and the player needs to come out and apologise sharpish to the fans.
“No one expects Xhaka to be pleased when your own fans are cheering when youre being substituted.
“But, as captain, you just cannot react to your fans in the way he did.
“There is no way back for Xhaka unless he apologises. The longer he leaves it, the bigger a mistake the incident will turn out to be.”