Arsene Wenger has cast fresh doubt over Jack Wilshere’s future at Arsenal after admitting that the midfielder is neither guaranteed regular game time at the Emirates Stadium this season or a new contract when his current deal expires at the end of the campaign.
The 25-year-old has been long-championed by Wenger who handed him his debut at the age of just 16, although it now appears that the Frenchman has finally lost patience with his one-time prodigy.
Wilshere has fallen considerably down the pecking order at Arsenal after a seemingly constant spate of injuries restricted him to just 66 appearances for the North London club in the last five years.
A season-long loan with Bournemouth last campaign was meant to provide the England international with the perfect opportunity to rediscover his form and fitness with regular playing time, although the move failed to reignite his career.
He played 29 times for The Cherries but was distinctly average before a fractured fibula, ironically suffered at White Hart Lane, prematurely ended his year.
Wenger has made it clear that he is open to offers for Wilshere before the transfer window closes at the end of the month and is under pressure to trim his senior squad from 28 down to the Premier League limit of 25.
However, there has been minimal interest in the 25-year-old and no concrete offers have been received, leaving the midfielder facing the prospect of spending the next year in the proverbial wilderness of reserve team football.
Wenger, quoted in The Guardian, admitted that the England international’s Arsenal career is reaching a definitive crossroad.
“I’m open with Jack, we have had honest conversations. He is at the stage of his career where he needs to play and I can’t guarantee him that today. I think I’m quite open on that. … You know how much I love Jack and his talent but today, in the football world, you need to be a consistent presence.”
Wilshere is currently recovering from his fracture fibula at Arsenal’s training ground but he was humiliating sent off on his return in an under-23s fixture against Manchester City.
The midfielder lashed out following a robust challenge and received a straight red card, acting as another set-back as he attempts to rediscover his form and fitness. However, Wenger has refused to rule out a new contract for the midfielder, whose current deal expires at the end of the season.
“If he gets back to his best and want to stay, we have to sit down later in the season. I don’t rule that out.”
The problem for Wilshere is that if he remains at the Emirates Stadium he will face an uphill struggle to force his way into the first team picture.
The England international is so far down the pecking order at Arsenal that it is telling that the club have yet to open, nor show any interest in opening, contract negotiations, leaving a loan move as the only realistic option.
Such is the dramatic fall in his reputation that only Aston Villa have showed an interest in the midfielder, with Steve Bruce admitting on talkSPORT this week, as referenced by The Sun and Express, that he would be willing to take Wilshere on loan if finances allowed.
This leaves the former prodigy with a difficult, yet vital decision to make before the transfer window closes.
Does he remain at Arsenal and face the prospect of a season in the reserves with no guarantee of a new contract? Or does he attempt to facilitate another loan move, even if that means dropping down into The Championship, in an attempt to play regularly?