Jack Wilshere is set to leave Arsenal for a loan deal and there are many who will paint this as a positive move for Jack and the club. But let’s not kid ourselves, this loan move means that Jack Wilshere might not be seen in an Arsenal strip ever again.
There are two types of loans that Arsenal arrange: loans for experience, and loans to get rid of players. The loans for experience happen when the player is younger. Think of Wilshere going out to Bolton. He played under then Press Darling Owen Coyle and when he returned to Arsenal as an 18 year old with an extra 14 matches of Premier League experience, he was raring to go.
But once a player reaches a certain age and experience level they either need to break into the first team, be happy with sub appearances, or they get sold/loaned. If you’ve been following Arsenal for more than a year you can probably name all of the players who left on loan, never to return, or to return for brief spells and be loaned out again. That’s where Jack Wilshere is right now.
It seems improbable that Arsenal wouldn’t be able to find a permanent suitor for Wilshere. My guess is that this loan deal is more at the behest of the player who was probably hurting after being left out of Sam Allardyce’s England squad. Wilshere probably approached Arsene Wenger in the last few days and asked to be loaned. With little time to shop him around and get top value, Arsenal are smart to loan him out: he will get exposure (raising his value) and the club will have time to line up suitors.
There were many reasons why Jack never seemed to find a place in the Arsenal squad. The first was, of course, injury. He had a breakout season the year after his loan. He played 49 times for Arsenal in 2010-2011 and won praise as England’s brightest young talent. But then in 2011-12 he suffered a stress fracture during pre-season and owing to complications of his recovery, he played zero times all season. He was actually out for 17 months. seasons at Arsenal, Jack has m and played a total of 173 matches.
He had a decent run of games for Arsenal after that recovery but questions arose as to which was Jack’s best position. For Arsene, he will publicly say that it’s the number 10. For England, it’s a pseudo-holding midfielder role. But despite Wenger saying that Jack was a number 10, Wenger played him in a variety of roles, including the left wing. Wilshere was at least playing at the time, though that would all come to an end when Paddy McNair broke his ankle with an ugly tackle in November 2014.
Critics at the time suggested that Jack should change his game. He has a tendency to hold on to the ball too long, to carry the ball right up to the edge and then try to beat players off the dribble. In football parlance, he invites the tackles. I’m not saying he deserves to have his ankles broken, at all. But at the same time, there is no denying that more passing and less dribbling would mean fewer chances for the McNair’s of the world to break his ankles.
Ironically, despite the one McNair reducer, Jack has mostly been injured in pre-season matches. His first big injury was in a match against New York Red Bulls in 2011. And in 2015, Gabriel broke Jack’s fibula in a pre-season training match. Both of those tackles resulted in Wilshere missing most of a year or more.
The other reason why Jack can’t get a game, and this is a harsh reality, is because he is down the pecking order in all of the positions he could possibly play. Number 10 is taken by Özil and Cazorla. The number 8 role is taken by Cazorla and Ramsey. The number 6 role is taken by Xhaka and Coquelin. Left wing is taken by Alexis and then maybe Wilshere, if Welbeck is unfit. Jack has no automatic starting spot at Arsenal and so it’s not a surprise that he wants a loan in order to get into a team where he can play.
Wilshere has had a number of off-field incidents but nothing major. He likes to sneak a smoke and he’s been spoken to by the police for a few small altercations. He also spoke truth to power once when he led the Arsenal supporters in a chant of “what do we think of Tottenham?” He is known to like a few beers and isn’t one to stay home on a Friday night. Wenger isn’t a fan of this kind of stuff — not necessarily because he like tee totals but more because Wenger feels a professional athlete needs to give 100% of his body and mind to the sport. He once told Tony Adams that he was amazed at his career, that because of all the partying, Adams had been at about 70% capacity and yet had still managed to win all of those trophies. Still, I don’t think his after-hours partying is the reason for this move.
Rumors have Jack going out on loan to Roma or Valencia. I think a move to the continent is perfect. He needs to get out of the toxic atmosphere of the Premier League and work in a league that demands more technical and tactical nous and less running straight up and down the pitch at 100mph so that you can have lumps kicked out of you.
It would be fantastic if this loan move meant that Jack would be back at Arsenal next year. He is a huge talent and should be starting at a club like Arsenal by now but he’s just missed so much of his career down to injury that he’s got huge gaps in his skill set. He’s not a well refined 24-year-old center mid, yet.
That said, I have a feeling that this is the end of Jack’s Arsenal adventure. He’s 24. It would be highly unusual for him to come back into the fold. He would have to work his socks off during this loan. Literally prove himself worthy of the starting spot at Arsenal.
Otherwise, this is just the beginning of the long goodbye.
In other news
It looks like my prediction that Gnabry is done at Arsenal is coming true as he is being sold to Werder Bremen. I don’t think that Wenger initiated either of the Gnabry move or the Wilshere move. I think both, like the Campbell move, are being driven by the player. Good for them. Players should demand more playing time. We don’t want guys hanging around, collecting paychecks, and doing nothing. Also, best of luck to both (all three) of them in their careers.
One other thing that has me a little nervous is that Valencia sold Alcacer to Barcelona for £27.5m. That sale was literlayy not supposed to happen. Valencia insisted on keeping the player and part of what made the Mustafi deal to Arsenal palatable to them was that they would be able to sell Mustafi, use the money from that sale to stay above FFP rules, and keep their star striker. But now that they have sold Alcacer they don’t need Arsenal’s money… We know that Mustafi wants to leave and wants to come to Arsenal but I’m worried that Arsenal’s hardball tactics may have backfired and Valencia may shut the deal down. I’m not hearing any movement on this deal and I’m now officially worried that it will fall apart.