Jack Wilshere to Wet Hams

London nudie mag, the Daily Star, is reporting that Arsenal’s playboy midfielder Jack Wilshere is set to make the switch across town to Wet Hams.

Wet Hams are set to spend big this summer to paper over their Andy Carroll sized cracks in attack. In what will almost certainly be the best deal of the summer, The Hammers have an agreement to steal Chicharito from Bayer Leverkusen for a mere £13m. And in what will almost certainly be the bust of the summer, Wet Hams are set to sign Marko Arnautovic from Stoke for £23m and make him their highest paid player. Arnautovic won’t add much in terms of goals or assists for West Ham but he does add a lot in attack with his striking ability to attack players arms, legs, shoulders, and to push people down when they are in mid-air.

Reportedly Arsenal have rejected a bid of £6m from Sampdoria for Wilshere and are asking for £9m. Nine million strikes many Arsenal supporters as far too cheap for a player once tipped to be the next Paul Gascoigne but considering the fact that Wilshere’s games played per season chart looks like Charlie Brown’s famous yellow shirt, the price may be right.

Nine million is cheap for a player who was named by Dani Alves as the one player he would sign for Barcelona. Wilshere was also hailed by Barca star Xavi as the future of English football. And while Paul Hayward, of the Guardian, considered him the future of English football in 2011 all of these praises came with one caveat: if he can shake off his problems with injury.

Wilshere never shook off those injury problems and even now is recovering from yet another broken leg. Wenger was asked where he saw Wilshere with Arsenal next season and answered:

“I will give you a very focused answer on that. He has to work hard to come back and fight for a place in the team. But once he is ready, when he comes back, he will not be far from practising with the team.”

“He will not be far from practicing with the team” is hardly a guarantee that this once-future-of-England player figures in Arsenal’s plans at all this fall.

Wilshere was loaned to Bournemouth last season in order compete for a place at Arsenal and did well enough in the first part to draw praise. But Eddie Howe had to drop him from the starting lineup after a shocking performance against Man City in February forced a sub at half time. Wilshere was protected by Howe saying that he dropped the Arsenal man in order to manage his physical fitness, but with Wilshere sidelined AFC Bournemouth looked a much more focused defensive unit and won two of their next four matches, earning 8 points. Once Wilshere came back in the side they lost two of three. And with Wilshere out in the last five matches Bournemouth won three of five games, collecting 17 points, and avoided relegation.

If Jack Wilshere stays with Arsenal until the end of the season he will be due a testimonial. A more complete “WHY JACK WHY” article will be penned if he should make the transfer.



  1. I know this won’t be a popular view here but I never saw how he fit. He HAD to become what Santi Cazorla was; the CM with the good feet to get out of bad spots, quarterback who keeps the ball moving. Otherwise he was a dribbler who didn’t have any speed to get separation, he was a creative attacking midfielder who didn’t produce many assists or score all that many goals. As a defender he was a bit of a pylon and lost tactically. He had one world-class game against Barcelona and scored some nice goals here and there, but between the injuries and no clear vision of what he was supposed to be on the field – and his personal life off the field – he was never going to be a world-class midfielder.

    1. Dude, you make good points and then ruin it with some lazy hogwash (sorry, sorry, I know that’s harsh, but it’s not a commentary on you as a person or a commenter here, just on how I see what you’ve just written):

      1. Of COURSE a player who gets injured as much and as terribly as Jack is going to struggle mightily to become world class (given that fact, the lack of vision of what he was supposed to do on the field, and his supposedly scandalous “personal life”, are largely irrelevant). But if he hadn’t had all those injuries, there’s no way to say with confidence that “he was never going to be a world-class midfielder.”

      2. “He had one world-class game against Barcelona.” Seriously, this referencing the Barcelona game again and again and again by Arsenal fans is so lazy it kills me. I don’t even know what a “world-class game” is, but the fact remains that he was pretty much brilliant for us throughout that whole campaign. And he was a teenager! Maybe he actually reached his ceiling that year and could never have gotten better, but a more commonsensical view has it that if a player can play that well at that level as a teenager, he will be even better by his mid-twenties, assuming injuries, distractions, etc, don’t get in the way (of course all those things can and often do get in the way, but the point is, the player has the POTENTIAL to go to the next level). Also, people often forget that he was England’s best player during Euro 2016 qualifying (insert joke about tallest dwarf competition here), picking up several man-of-the-match awards along the way. This was only two years ago! The fact that Hodgson took him to the tournament when he had just come back from another injury and clearly wasn’t fit indicates how highly Hodgson and Neville rated him and how key he had been for them (on a side note, Neville has said Wilshere was his favorite player to work with in his time in coaching).

      3. Contrary to what you claim, although he was never a speedster, one of his greatest attributes was always a little burst of acceleration that allowed him to elude defenders that he’d just dribbled past. I’m not sure if the injuries have completely robbed him of this or not, but I recall he still had it 2-3 seasons back.

      Not saying any of this means he should stay. I recognize he’s looked a shadow of his teenage self of late. I personally think, provided he hasn’t lost that acceleration, and he’s willing to stay with the squad and fight for his place, he could work himself back into shape and form and still become a really key player for us when inevitable injuries to others hit. But I also think he seems very weak defensively now (he was so aggressive as a teenager, but at Bournemouth, even at his best, he seemed to have lost that). And his injury record obviously make him someone we can’t count on. His relationship with the club and Wenger also seems to have broken down somewhat. So I’d hardly be too upset if we let him go. But if we’re going to sell him for change this summer (that’s what 10m or so amounts to these days), then I for one wouldn’t mind keeping him for the season and seeing what happens, even if he goes for free next summer.

      1. 1. I disagree: Jack’s personal life is the problem. Top quality players adapt their game, they learn and grow. Jack Wilshere steadfastly refused to learn and grow: “When I was injured, I read a few things and I was thinking maybe they were right. Maybe I should pass it a little bit more or a little bit quicker, but as soon as I get back on the ball and there is an opportunity for me to run at someone, that is what I want to do. I don’t think I can change.”

        2. I agree and disagree: his performance in the Barcelona match was overhyped and people need to remember how good he was for that whole season. However! That season was the one in which people started telling him to pass the ball more, to not try to take on every defender, to develop a right foot, and to improve his defensive work. I did it here and I was personally attacked every single day. Some of those people followed me around for years and made a snide comment whenever Jack Wilshere had an occasional good game.

        My point here is that his injury record is often cited as the reason for his underdevelopment and that is a safe and easy way to paint his career: Jack, the unfortunate victim. It’s also just as hackneyed as the argument about the one good game. The reality is a combination of Wilshere’s stubborn attitude and the English game’s penchant for brutality are to blame.

        1. Sure, I don’t really disagree. But I think it’s hard to overstate the debilitating effect on career development that getting THAT injured THAT often, in your early 20’s, would have on almost any player. It’s not a blanket excuse for all of Wilshere’s flaws, but I think it must be considered a huge factor. Players are human beings. It can be hard enough even for players who don’t have serious injury problems to consistently find their best form and develop their games in the hyper-competitive world of elite football clubs. Being out for months and months at a time–the psychological disappointment and strain that that brings with it, on top of the physical demands of recovery–only to return and have new players playing in your position in the team, must be incredibly difficult, especially when it happens over and over again, as it did for Wilshere and Diaby.

          As for those quotes about him not changing his game, I think he wasn’t so much addressing the need to pass more, per se, but people telling him he had to get rid of the ball quicker when dribbling so as to avoid tackles and more injuries. Maybe that was prudent and he should have listened. But on the other hand, it’s rare and valuable for a player to be able to commit defenders on the dribble (see Alexis Sanchez), and if you have the natural instincts to hold the ball until the last second and then release a teammate, that can be incredibly effective. To be clear, I agree he needed to expand and mature his game, but I don’t think those quotes reveal a player who was close minded and unwilling to work hard to improve.

          (Again, Gary Neville may not have become a top quality manager (yet), but he’s both an astute observer of the game and the very definition of a consummate professional, and he named Wilshere as his favorite player to work with. That doesn’t suggest to me someone who is lazily content to let his natural ability stagnate.)

        2. I didn’t mean to imply that personal life is in general irrelevant, just that, in light of his terrible injuries, pretty sure smoking two cigarettes has had comparatively very little to do with him struggling to develop into a great player.

          1. C’mon… it wasn’t just being caught smoking. Being caught in a hot tub in Las Vegas with Joe Hart (another one that has failed his promise) and James Milner is grounds for release, just for bad taste in friends alone.

      2. Ok, frustration go the better of me at the beginning of that last comment. Apologies to Jack for calling his opinions lazy hogwash.

        On that suspect “personal life off the field” though…the guy was pictured smoking, twice. If memory serves, neither incident came when he was involved with the first team, but rather when on holiday and/or recovering from longterm injury (not excusing the behavior, just providing a bit of context). But as far as I know, other than these incidents and giving people the impression of being a bit of a chav (not a crime), Wilshere has done nothing to earn a “bad boy” reputation.

        No reports of training fights with staff or other players, returning to preseason wildly overweight, getting caught with illegal recreational drugs, trouble with the law for domestic abuse or other physical violence, evidence of alcohol or gambling addiction, yelling racist abuse, cheating on his partner with prostitutes, tardiness making team meetings, unrealistic wage demands, bizarre media attention-seeking behavior, or any number of other things that footballers and other athletes have been known to do.

      3. His personal life is not irrelevant to his performances on the field nor irrelevant in terms of being able to evaluate him as a professional footballer. I don’t need to go into a laundry list of things Jack Wilshere has been “caught” doing but it speaks to a sort of callous disregard for doing what is most important for him as a footballer; taking care and protecting yourself (physically and psychologically) so that you can perform at, or near, your maximum on the playing field. Contrast stories of Wilshere’s off the field behaviour with that of Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry or if you want a more current context, Per Mertesacker or Peter Cech.

        I stand by my claim that he had no speed to marvel at – hence his injuries. A step too late challenging for 50/50 balls, too easy to catch from behind when he got away. He’s half as fast as Ozil, I guarantee you that. Ramsey isn’t any faster, but Ramsey covers more territory and has a different game.

        Maybe it is lazy to cite the Barcelona game, but in my amateur assessment he was magnificent that game. Barca could not press him. If we’d had THAT Jack Wilshere in the team these past two seasons we may be hoisting the Premier League trophy.

        I’m sorry, but it’s all one big overlapping Venn diagram of problems for me; playing style, injuries, professionalism/personal life, over-hype, lack of definition… and in the centre is “Jack Wilshere Can’t Cut It at Arsenal”.

        Just read that Swansea want him too. I will bet you he insists on West Ham even if the transfer fee and salary is lower. why? because he won’t want to leave the London nightlife. #priorities

        1. 1. He chose Bournemouth over Palace last year. So your London nightlife theory goes out the window.

          2. So what is this long laundry list of things he’s been caught doing??? Come on, let’s have the evidence. And while you’re compiling it, let me just mention, for context, that Steven Gerrard was charged with assaulting someone in a Liverpool nightclub (like, it was proper violent too). Ryan Giggs cheated on his wife with his younger brother’s wife for years (at one point pressuring her to have an abortion to cover his tracks), and by all accounts was a bit of a Tiger Woods in terms of his rampant sexual escapades. I don’t even know where to begin with John Terry: traffic violations, drunken abuse at Americans right after 9/11, racist abuse of fellow footballers, sleeping with teammates’ girlfriends, etc, etc. And yet all three had incredibly long and successful careers in English football. What has Jack Wilshere ever done by comparison?

          3. I didn’t say he had “speed to marvel at.” I was addressing your claim that he didn’t have “any speed to get separation” from opponents when dribbling. But in fact his burst of acceleration was able to do PRECISELY THIS. Wenger himself has mentioned it many times. Go back and watch all of his touches in that Barca game, just as the easiest way to demonstrate my point (they’re all on youtube). Again and again he bursts by their players. So did he somehow magically only have the requisite quickness for ONE game???!!!??? Or did he have it but lose it after his first bout of bad injuries (if so, that would prove my point about the injuries being by far the main problem for him)? Or maybe he still has it, albeit likely diminished by years of injury.

          Look, I’m all for criticism where criticism is due. Of course the smoking was extremely stupid and unprofessional, as was his little temper tantrum at the very end of the transfer window last summer after being left out of ONE England squad by Sam Alardyce(!). For that reason alone I’m cool with Wenger being ruthless and cutting him loose (just think the 9m or so being quoted is ridiculously low, as was the fee for Szszesny). And of course the injuries, though unfortunate, must be taken into account. I just don’t think your assessment of him and his career is remotely even-handed.

          1. Hey Tim, comment stuck in moderation? Can only assume this is because it included mention of various misdeeds committed by Giggs, Gerrard, and Terry, but definitely nothing offensive or inappropriate in there…

        2. West Ham were apparently the team he supported as a kid. At least there was a picture of him wearing their shirt. Kinda uncharitable to suggest he’ll go to West Ham only to be a party animal, especially when he left London to go to Bournemouth last season.

    2. Agreed. He never fit in a 2 person midfield, and I don’t see him in a 433 either. There were always flashes of brilliance – too many to ignore – but there was no consistent skill in a particular area to give him a solid rol. A bit like Ox, but obviously very different players.

  2. Would the Hammers buy an injured player, albeit cheaply? That’s a puzzler. “Having a medical” is one of the rites of the transfer season. That said, Chelsea did buy Bakayoko injured, but maybe his exam should that it was nothing serious or long term.

    If Jack does go to West Ham, I hope it means that we are getting a defensive midfielder. Or Lemar.

  3. If Arsenal is looking to sell him and Cazorla is likely to miss the season, then surely someone with the same set of skills as those two should be brought in. It would be negligent to start the season only with Ramsey (injury prone), Xhaka (red card prone), Elneny (boring) and Coquelin (limited). This could be a chance for the Ox but i would prefer someone who is already a specialist in that rol. I think to cover that position is a bigger priority than getting Lemar for example. Problem is players in that mould, such as Verrati, are hard to find. Maybe kovacic from real Madrid could do the trick. He is very versatile, a good dribbler and can pass the ball. granted i don’t know much about his defensive skills. Still, he isnt getting many games at RM and they have bought Ceballos, so maybe they could sell him cheap.

  4. Apologies for my lame attempts at Wilshere haikus. I am a bit sad to be honest. I had such high hopes for him. He had the talent to be a star in our team but fell prey to injuries and a lack of focus. Part of me thinks he has nobody to blame but himself but another part of me feels that he could have been managed better. He was not the same after being played in almost every game during that 2010-2011 season when he was 18. People only talk about the Barcelona match but we won games against Chelsea and Man U that season with him playing in our midfield. The hype around him wasn’t without merit. He should have built on that season but instead joins the countless number of players who didn’t reach their potential.

    I think we all realized it was over for him after he went on loan to Bournemouth. If a decision has been made to sell him, I fully support it. However the £9 mil valuation seems too low. I get the injury issues but he is an England international and given that Nathan Ake just went for £20 mil, it seems a low amount. We are not very good at getting the most money for our players.

    1. “We are not very good at getting the most money for our players.”

      This really should be given more media attention than it gets.

    2. I think the 9m is for Sampdoria. The ‘news’ report I read was that we asked for 20m from West Ham. Though I expect we won’t get more than 10-12m for him from anyone.

      On the larger issue though, this isn’t a new thing. I was shocked when we sold Henry to Barcelona for only 16m. Cesc went cheap though there were special circumstances there. On the other hand, we got very good fees for the likes of Nasri, Adebayor and I’ll say it..even RVP. (we can disagree about the emotional side of it but financially it was a good deal especially after the letter made him toxic to us)

      I think we’re comparing Arsenal to the wrong clubs in this regard. We’re not Chelsea who (with the exception of Cech) can and will hold onto contracts even if they are unproductive unless they get a large fee. We’re more careful (and I think realistic) with our wages. We’re also a club who will factor the players’ wishes into it, especially if they deserve it. (Again sort of like Cech with Chelsea) If that means maintaining good respectful relationships with clubs, and players who leave us, I think we view it as an end in itself and a plus in our future business.

  5. Going into unwinnable 50/50 challenges after suspect dribbling sequences caused a lot of injuries for Jack as well as holding onto the ball when a pass is on also invited tackles which refs didnt see as fouls.

    If Jack had kept his game simple instead of trying to be a hero he wouldn’t be so injury prone.

  6. Without wanting to sound like a conspiracy theorist, my overall impression was that Jack came in for quite a bit of blatant targeting from other teams’ hatchet men, that more often than not was ignored, or at least treated leniently, by refs game after game. I suppose some would say it’s legitimate to target another team’s creative players, particularly when they are known to be injury prone. I don’t like that view, and I don’t like it when we seem to do it (can’t think of any instances offhand but I suppose there may be examples); I’m pretty sure Wenger would never encourage or even sanction that kind of play. I’ll be sad to see Jack go but it doesn’t feel like a great loss to the team, except for his potential.

  7. @Jayke I agree

    Wilshere seemed more targeted than others in an era where Arsenal were targeted in general for bullying. Our young and light IX’s in those days generally played other premier league sides off the pitch should they not confront us physically. It’s a pet theory of mine, but already lenient referees let a little bit more go on Jack because of his reputation in the papers. So, even if he wasn’t specifically targeted more by opponents, he was less protected by referees than others. It was culturally okay in England at the time to kick Arsenal players, which combined with Jack’s stubbornness, lead us to now. He really was a brilliant player, though.

  8. Sometime over the past 3 years — it’s hard to put a finger on precisely when — Jack lost a significant amount of pace. In that Barcelona game that is overly referenced (I get sick of it too, PFo) the key to his play was quickness of thinking and of foot. He had other good games since, but it became clear of late that he had lost that burst of acceleration. He also bulked up big time, to the point where he made Gerd Muller look scrawny-legged.

    So while he liked the ferry/dribble the ball past players, he lacked the acceleration to get away from them. He held onto the ball too long. His decision making abuot releasing, give-and-go, when to pass it, all suffered. He looked ponderous and over-muscled. Sure he had that goal of the season combo with Santi and Giroud, but further up the pitch, he had a frustrating tendency to dwell on the ball too much, acting as if he was some Maradona of the midfield.

    He’s been unlucky too by being targeted with some awful tackling. One by a Manchester United occasional player whose name I’ve forgotten, should have earned the player a red card. It put him out of the game for a long time.

    But the harsh truth is that Wilshere has declined — a tough verdict to reach on a young man who’s only 25. His manager didn’t help either, identifying him in separate interviews as both (A) a back of the midfield player who likes to see the whole game in front of him, and (B) a final-third player whose quick thinking combo play was suited to the attack (I agree with this… his absolute best position is where Ozil plays, and he may wear the No. 10, but he’s the apprentice). He himself didn’t appear to know his best position.

    Buying Elneny and later Xhaka reduced his playing time, but increased his sense of entitlement. He’d been out for AGES, but publicly albeit mildly and politely criticised the manager who bent over backwards to find a place in the XI for him, by playing him on the wing. Instead of staying and fighting for his place, he went to a smaller club where he could be a top dog. It worked out for a while, but overall, can’t be said to be anything but a failure. Two assists for the season. For a creative attacking player. That is partly down to players not being on his wavelength, He might have had 10 with the chances he created, but those loan are arrangements are a chance to impose yourself as the top dog of the team. He didn’t.

    I think that the lifestyle thing is way overblown. He was caught with a cigarette and a hookah (note the spelling). For a kid, he’s led a fairly stable family life, being twice married already. Jeez, he’s a famous young millionaire in his early 20s who had time on his hands. Arguably he wasn’t very smart to allow himself to be exposed like that , but in the tabloid age, he’s under a microscope and a target. He wasn’t exactly behaving like a Red Hot Chilli Peppers rock star. Let’s not overstate that part of things. His problems were on the football field.

    And btw, Ozil wants his number, so he would voluntarily drive him to east London.

  9. Your right Tim, 13 million for Hernandez (still only 29) who has scored 28 in 54 for Leverkusen and is proven in the Premier League is incredible buying in today’s market. I am Grateful it wasn’t another top 6 side who poached such a proven goal scorer.

    Jacks career is the classic and all too common story of potential unrealised. The years of injury frustration undoubtedly had the biggest effect in curtailing his development. The playboy stuff seems a little overstated and more significant than the tabloid tattle is that I can’t remember reading or hearing anything about a poor attitude during his training or rehabilitation.

    Perhaps the decision last year to leave instead of staying to fight for a place was telling of his attitude but it could also be read another way in that he left the comfortable surroundings of Arsenal and took the risk to expose himself. It was a boom or bust move and it looks like it was a bust for his career at a big club unless something miraculous happens from here.

  10. Wow, some people are very harsh on Wilshere. I mean he’s not my favourite guy or player and I’m cool with selling him. Even for 9m to Italy (Italian clubs aren’t awash with cash like English clubs) But his is like Diaby’s very much a case of potential well hampered by injuries. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that both played for Arsenal at that time.

    It’s ok to grow and improve your game, part of which happens naturally the more you play. I don’t think he was being pig headed about being the player he is. He was right. The fact that his tendency to release the ball late, which is often a good thing, also meant he kept facing bad tackles is down to the referees and the media in England who seemingly celebrated by bringing out the ‘soft’ line whenever an Arsenal player went down.

    As for his attitude, yeah he’s a bit of a chav as PFo put it, but his excesses aren’t extreme. (That we know of, though someone I trust wrote on a blog that they had got some not very nice info about Jack)Even so, having been repeatedly injured and losing out on playing – the one thing they love to do and are good at – has a huge psychological effect on players, especially the younger guys. So in my mind, even some of his attitude problems stem from his injuries.

    He was never the future captain or whatever tag the English fans put on him, but he was still one of our own. When he pushed for a move to Bournemouth to try to make the England team again (that’s how I read it) I felt he was being both selfish and foolish and I knew that unless he had a monster season, his time was up. Looks like it is and I’m ok with that. Especially because we’re already carrying an injured Santi and an injury prone Ramsey. Can’t have another guy like that taking a squad spot.

  11. aaron, mesut, chamberlain, and iwobi looked sharp. same for ospina; holy crap, he absolutely crushed pedro.

    per mertesacker looked tired and was at fault for both the goals. the first one, he went to ground, no where near the ball. that’s a tell-tale sign of fatigue. with him on the ground, chelsea players were able to get higher up the pitch and do damage with mertesacker out of position to provide cover. for the second, he was way too deep and allowed batshuayi to turn; bad soccer. there was another chance chelsea had that came from mert playing too deep. with respect, it’s pre-season but that sort of play is never acceptable.

    lacazette has reinforced my belief that he’ll struggle to lead the line against top teams. whenever the ball was played to him, it never stuck and arsenal weren’t able to build up many good attacks. when he did get the ball, it was either deep in midfield or wide areas; never high and centrally. he tried to run behind the defense a few times but that’s too easy to defend against a lone front man. the few chances arsenal had were due to forward runs made by ramsey. sorry, boys, but you can’t create enough chances counting exclusively on that. mesut and iwobi were sharp enough but the center forward play was lacking. with respect, it’s his first game at this level and against a very good defense but if arsenal want to win a championship, he’s got to be able to get it done against top teams as well. we’ll see.

  12. I’ll miss Jack if he leaves. He could quite easily play a deeper creative role (of the type Santi does ) and one he’s successfully been used for in England games. True he suffers for his skills but only one injury in all of last season is a good return for him. Also, he’s one of the few players Arsenal have that I can relate to. There’s just not enough lads from London or the home counties in that squad. GG had up to ten and I think there were six in ’89 league champions.

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