Is a loan move Jack Wilshere’s last chance to make it at Arsenal?

Is a loan move Jack Wilshere's last chance to make it at Arsenal?

Managers tend to prioritise short-term results and the best interests of the team over those of individual players, but Arsene Wenger has always been slightly different. He takes an especially paternalistic attitude to his charges, and when players want to move on he rarely stands in their way. Virtually none of his former players have had a bad word to say about him since leaving Arsenal, and his approach is doubtless a reason for his longevity at the top level. Wenger has spoken in the past the he views ‘having a positive influence on people’s lives’ as one of his gravest responsibilities as Arsenal manager.

So while it may be a source of comfort for him and Arsenal fans to carry Jack Wilshere as a high-class squad player, what’s best for Wilshere’s personal future will also weigh heavily on Wenger’s mind. Wilshere symbolises so much of Wenger’s work in the post-Highbury era; a homegrown talent who burst onto the scene at 16, technically gifted, courageous in possession and with a bit of bottle to go with it. Ultimately however, his career since 2010-11 has been mostly hypothetical; Arsenal fans spend more time talking about what Wilshere might do, rather than what he actually has done.

 

There is an element of Catch-22 in Wilshere’s situation. When fit and firing, he has the ability and skill set to demand a starting spot in Arsenal’s team. However, without a starting spot in team, it will be hard for Wilshere to prove his fitness. He is stuck in a sort of limbo at Arsenal; he has the talent to be their first choice central midfielder, but is currently sixth choice. Arsenal, already five points behind the early season pace setters, are fighting for Premier League points and cannot afford to carry a rusty midfielder.

At the time his injury troubles started in 2011-12, Wilshere was one of Arsenal’s brightest prospects. Following the loss of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, and subsequently Robin Van Persie, Wilshere was on the few remaining jewels in the crown. His status at the club has diminished significantly since however, and not just due to his injury problems. Aaron Ramsey has trained on well, Santi Cazorla offers similar qualities to Wilshere but is a more reliable presence, Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil are arguably as good as anything in the league at what they do, while Francis Coquelin and Mohammed Elneny have been pleasant surprises.

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In many ways a loan spell would provide some answers to several unanswered questions. If Wilshere stays for the duration of a season-long loan and turns in a series of impressive performances, then Wenger can recall him back to Arsenal with full confidence that he is ready to be an important Arsenal player. If however, Wilshere struggles for form or, even worse, breaks down again with another serious injury then Wenger will likely call time on his Arsenal career. Ultimately, Wilshere needs to play but Arsenal do not have enough confidence in him at this moment in time to let him find his way back in their own colours.

 

This could also be a sign that Wenger is altering his approach to squad building slightly. Should Wilshere go, Arsenal would have moved on their three most injury prone midfielders accounting for the departures of Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky as well. Wenger has had his hands burnt by relying on injury prone players to provide squad depth and, in the short term at least, would rather somebody else took the risk.

Should Wilshere leave in this window, it would not be the end for him at Arsenal by any means. If Wenger could buy a guarantee that he would stay fit, he would most likely keep him. However, with the Arsenal boss already under intense pressure to deliver a Premier League title in what could be his final season, there is neither the god will nor time to take a chance. There is so much to admire about Wilshere as a player. His ability to receive the ball under opposition pressure and turn away from trouble is unique, especially for an English player. Any team would benefit from his drive and creativity. For the time being at least, it looks as if that team will not be Arsenal.

Feature image: All rights reserved by phim online hay

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