Would a move to Manchester City kick-start this Arsenal midfielder's career?
Speculation that Manchester City are lining up an audacious swoop for Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere has been greeted with a great deal of surprise. The 24-year-old started just one match for the Gunners last season and has been plagued by injury for much of his career. (In fact, so infrequent have been his appearances that Leeds United have actually employed six managers since Wilshere last completed 90 minutes for Arsenal.) But according to an article published in The Mirror on June 4, new City boss Pep Guardiola has identified the England midfielder as one of his top targets.
When you analyse it, there is logic behind a potential move for Wilshere. Because he has spent so much of his time on the treatment table, it is easy to forget his immense ability. When he burst on to the scene back in 2010, then England chief Fabio Capello claimed Wilshere was the player around whom the national team should be built. The Arsenal man possesses rare qualities among English footballers. He is naturally comfortable in possession and can glide past opponents with a drop of the shoulder. He enjoys occupying the pockets of space between the lines and his vision enables him to unpick defences with a killer pass. Wilshere has a continental style about his play, attributes that Guardiola demands in a midfielder.
No better was Wilshere’s talent illustrated than for England against Slovenia last June, where he bossed the midfield and netted two wonder goals. It was a stunning performance that earned him his sixth man-of-the-match award in seven qualifiers. However, in keeping with his truncated career, Wilshere sustained a hairline leg fracture on the eve of the Premier League campaign. What had been expected to sideline him for a month turned into another injury nightmare, which restricted him to just three appearances all season.
Opportunities at his boyhood club may be increasingly hard to come by for Wilshere, even if he remains injury-free. The arrival of big-money signing Granit Xhaka from Borussia Dortmund has further strengthened the Gunners’ midfield. Having parted with a reported £30 million to secure his services, the likelihood is that Arsene Wenger sees the Swiss being a mainstay of the starting XI. Only Wenger can answer where Wilshere lies in the pecking order, but the competition for places is fierce. As well as Xhaka, the likes of Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey, Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin and Alex Iwobi will all be vying for spots in the engine room next season.
Now 24 years of age, Wilshere needs to be playing regular first-team football. He will have noted how the careers of his England team-mates Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have both stagnated in recent years. The promise the pair showed at an early age has yet to be realised, as they struggle to cement a place in the Arsenal side. As a result, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain have become peripheral figures for England. Wilshere will be desperate not to follow suit, particularly given his international ambitions.
Having graduated from Arsenal’s academy system, there is no doubt Wilshere ideally sees his future in north London. But should City’s interest materialise into something substantial, a switch to the Etihad must be worth considering? Sometimes, moving to pastures new is needed in order to reach the next level. There would be no better place for Wilshere to achieve that than under the guidance of former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola, whose coaching methods are revered worldwide. A change of scenery can do wonders. And Manchester might just be the place for Wilshere to realise his undoubted potential.
Featured Image – All Rights Reserved by Ronnie Macdonald.