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Where will Arsenal's Jack Wilshere fit in at Bournemouth?

Where will Arsenal's Jack Wilshere fit in at Bournemouth?

Arguably the most surprising deadline-day move in the Premier League was Jack Wilshere’s loan switch from Arsenal to Bournemouth. The dynamic midfielder, who was part of England’s Euro 2016 campaign, penned a season-long deal with the Cherries amid reported interest from Crystal Palace and Italian giants Roma and AC Milan.

It was an extraordinary coup for manager Eddie Howe, who had met with Wilshere in London on Tuesday in an effort to persuade him to join Bournemouth, after Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger had sanctioned a temporary transfer.

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There is no doubt the arrival of Wilshere; who has 34 England appearances to his name, is a massive boost to Bournemouth and their chances of Premier League survival. Attracting a player of such quality to the club would have been unthinkable to many. However, where will he fit in and what can supporters expect of their exalted new addition?

Wilshere’s career has been bedevilled by a catalogue of injuries that have stalled his progress. He burst onto the scene in 2010 and was quickly identified by then England manager Fabio Capello as a future captain of the national team. Wilshere has yet to reach those heights, but the prospect of a full season of football can surely only prove mutually beneficial to his career and the Cherries’ prospects.

During England’s Euro 2016 qualifying campaign under Roy Hodgson, Wilshere was utilised at the base of a diamond formation. His man-of-the-match performance away to Slovenia, which featured two stunning long-range strikes in a 3-2 win, was a standout moment for the 24-year-old.

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By his own admission however, Wilshere sees his future as a creative influence further up the pitch, potentially in the number 10 position. It is there where he has excelled for Arsenal; possessing the vision to unlock defences with killer passes. Howe will endeavour to maximise Wilshere’s strengths.

In the early stages of the season, Bournemouth have evidently lacked a cutting edge going forward; often looking ponderous and confused about how to break down stubborn defences. It is in the final third where Wilshere could make an enormous difference. Playing in behind pacey strikers such as Callum Wilson and Benik Afobe – who also happens to be Wilshere’s best friend – there may be plenty of opportunities for the England man to stamp his influence on games.

Howe’s football philosophy is based on retaining possession. Indeed, his brand of football is very similar to Wenger’s, which is why Wilshere should feel comfortable in his new surroundings.

Sceptics will point to Wilshere’s woeful injury record as evidence that he is unlikely to be available for a full season at Bournemouth. Admittedly, it does make for grim reading. In eight years as a professional at Arsenal, he has managed only 105 Premier League appearances, scoring six goals. Incredibly, Wilshere hasn’t completed 90 minutes for nearly two years.

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In that respect, Bournemouth have gambled by agreeing to pay his wages for a whole season, which will dwarf the salaries of his team-mates. Nevertheless, the chance to sign a proven international was too good to pass up.

Having lost his place in the inaugural England squad to be named by new manager Sam Allardyce, Wilshere will be desperate for a run of games to press his case for a recall. While many observers are shocked that he has chosen to join a club in the lower reaches of the Premier League ahead of more illustrious suitors, Wilshere clearly views Bournemouth as the best option to kick-start his career. A ringing endorsement from Afobe undoubtedly helped to sway his decision. He may come with baggage, but Wilshere’s potential is undeniable. Cherries supporters will be hoping this is the season in which it is finally realised.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Emrah Partal

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