As we embark on Arsenal’s new era under Unai Emery, the remains of Arsene Wenger’s handy work still needs to be undone. As new players like Stephan Lichtsteiner and Sokratis Papastathopoulos make their way to the Emirates, current players are ominously looking at the exit door.
Jack Wilshere made his senior debut for Arsenal at the age of just 16 years old on the 13th of September 2008. In a career that’s seen him represent the Gunners on more than a 100 occasions, we may well have seen Wilshere play his last game in red & white.
Jack Wilshere’s Arsenal contract officially ended on the 1st of June and as of then, he became a free agent. However, it’s believed that a loyalty bonus is the final stumbling block to Wilshere declaring himself as available to the rest of the market.
The Gunners have enjoyed the talents of the Englishman for a decade now, but that all looks set to come to an end in the upcoming weeks. But before we put the final nail in the coffin, let’s weigh up the positives and negatives of his situation.
Should Unai Emery retain the services of Jack Wilshere?
First, let’s be clear about this, Jack Wilshere is a top-quality player with unlimited potential. But that’s exactly the problem, we’ve been using the word ‘potential’ and Wilshere in the same sentence for far too long.
The truth is, Wilshere’s injury record has prevented him from living up to the hype that surrounds his name. Since 2009, the 26-year-old has spent 1,013 days out through injury, equating to a total of 154 games missed. For a club that has become synonymous with long-term injuries, it’s understandable for Arsenal wanting to disassociate themselves with the central midfielder.
Santi Cazorla re-joined his boyhood club of Villareal in the early weeks of June. The Spaniard was a key component of Arsene Wenger’s style of play, but like Jack, injuries hindered his career. With Cazorla long-gone, Wilshere is the only player at Arsenal that has the skillset to replicate Cazorla’s ability and influence on the team. The 26-year-old’s close control, explosive dribbling and exceptional vision in the final third present him as a useful asset to not only Arsenal but any team in world football.
With Jack Wilshere at the Emirates, Unai Emery can rest assured knowing that he’d have five competent players fighting for two midfield places. That’s strength in depth and such competition can only be positive for Unai Emery. Whether a contract in excess of £100,000-a-week is a price worth paying or not for squad depth, is a decision the Spaniard will have to make.
When asked about the Englishman in his welcoming press conference, Unai Emery refused to go into detail about Jack’s situation, preferring to speak behind closed doors. Well, fast forward a month and Wilshere looks closer to leaving than staying, clearly showing what the new manager regrettably thinks of him.
Jack Wilshere has been a loyal servant to Arsenal football club but that one performance against Barcelona ten years ago has sustained his reputation at the cub. A reputation that no longer holds weight under a new regime.