Jack Wilshere is in an unusual situation with Arsenal with his contract; but will a departure away do him any good for his own future?
Arsenal fans have always loved it when ‘Jack is in the box’, but it is quite unknown how they would react if he left the club he has played his entire career at. Jack Wilshere and Arsenal’s story hasn’t exactly gone according to the script and definitely not how everyone expected the story to unfold.
A thrilling trailer was then followed by some promising scenes earlier in the movie, but some disturbances with power and the hero often injured, did not enable the director to make the film as he would have wanted.
When he broke into the first team, he had competitors and companions in the likes of Aaron Ramsey and others. One look at how the Welshman has progressed will tell you Jack’s story is a different one. Aaron Ramsey, despite his one-time horrific leg break, has brought balance to his career, playing regularly for his club, thus aiding his development.
With Wilshere, that has not been the case. His game is different to Ramsey’s, and while we can argue about his playing time in the last few seasons, the talent has certainly not faded away, although the showcasing has been somewhat inconsistent this season.
The situation before the season started was simple; in the aftermath of his Bournemouth loan, there was a feeling Wilshere had lost the confidence of the club, and the relationship thus strained. This season too, Arsene Wenger did not give him absolute guarantees, nor did he place his full trust in him, as one could imagine how he would have been thought about Ramsey.
With his contract running out, the situation was that he prove his fitness to the club, as well as showcase his talent right, and they will be ready to offer him a new deal. Everything went to plan, but Arsenal, despite offering him new terms, did so with the handbrakes on.
The club reportedly offered him a contract with pay cuts from his basic salary, meaning Wilshere will have earned around £90,000-a-week compared to his current £110,000 package. At first, extensive reports and chatter suggested he would be following Mesut Ozil in signing the new deal, but as the German reportedly signed a new, much improved contract, Wilshere grew wary of the salary gap, and has so far refused to commit.
There is no indication he wants something like the Ozil deal, but at least that will match or better his current contract. In recent weeks, there were some reports of Arenal offering him a newer agreement, but there has been no news from Camp Wilshere about acceptance or denial.
So what now for Wilshere?
As the season nears its conclusion, he is slowly edging towards a free transfer, and there has been no shortage of interest in the midfielder. AC Milan, Juventus and Everton are being heavily linked with a transfer for him. There has also been the talk of a move to Liverpool, as the Merseysiders will be looking to replace Emre Can, if the German is to leave on a free transfer himself.
The opinion here is that neither of these clubs, apart from Juventus, whose interest could also be questioned as media gossip, could prove to be a step backwards for Wilshere. He stands more of a chance of representing his nation again playing for Arsenal than any other club.
It’s not to say his quality will deteriorate at these clubs, but he has always professed his love for Arsenal, and he embodies the Arsenal style of play.
A common understanding would be that Wilshere will not be a sure-starter at Juventus, so we’ll keep the Turin side away from this discussion. Taking other interested clubs into consideration, there is a chance he could start every single game, but that will still represent a downgrade choice compared to Arsenal.
At the beginning of this season, Wenger made it clear to him and publicly stated that he will not be considered a starter and offered no promises. Yet, it was Wilshere’s ability that has got him to where he is this season.
The first point of concern will be the impending departure of Arsene Wenger, who has, throughout Wilshere’s career, shown solidarity and been loyal to the player. Wilshere himself is yet to deliver his best for the club amid all the talk of his potential and talent.
With Wenger leaving, there would certainly be no guarantees that Arsenal’s new boss would want Wilshere to stay at the club. Signing the contract currently on the table would also represent the best possible opportunity for Wilshere to stay at Arsenal before the new manager decides against renewing his deal.
On the other hand, Everton is the club showing the most interest in him, with the Toffees reportedly ready to offer him his desired wages. But if it was about wages, Wilshere could quickly go to China in the current market.
The reason he has stayed back and offered no olive branch to other clubs is that he wants to continue his career at Arsenal and is still angling for a better deal than the one currently on offer.
Moving to Everton is going to reduce his chances of representing England by half of what he has today. Everton is a club in today’s market with plenty of money, courtesy to majority shareholder Farhad Moshri, but lack leadership and style at present.
Their choices of splurging the money haven’t been impressive either. A point of reference would be two players, Morgan Schneiderlin and Theo Walcott. Both players moved from Manchester United and Arsenal respectively, but yet their impact is entirely unknown so far.
Walcott, especially, scoring a double on his first start has stuttered since, and out of the limelight, from the media as well as from England. At 27 years old, there seems little possibility of the speedster ever representing his country again.
Wilshere, on the other hand, still has plenty of consideration from Gareth Southgate, and with another season of regular football, he could become one of England and Arsenal’s key players for the future.
Then again, if anyone has noticed the improvements Arsenal have made in midfield, and ironically Wenger, before he leaves the club for good, has potentially unlocked the idea of how to play Ramsey and Wilshere together in the same team. A Ramsey-Wilshere partnership was long dreamed by Arsenal fans as well as the manager who tried his level best a few seasons ago to patch them together, although nothing came out of that.
The British core, which Arsene Wenger once tried to build at Arsenal, has wholly been disbanded in the recent seasons. The only remaining members are Wilshere, Ramsey and Welbeck; and Arsenal need to recognise them and build the next generation team around them, rather than look away.
Ramsey and Welbeck’s contracts are up for renewals as well, but Wilshere’s is a more pressing issue which needs a solution. The solution, however, needs to come from both parties – Arsenal need to offer terms they would provide a first-choice midfielder and Wilshere, with how his career has been, should not undermine Arsenal’s position, while there is a need for the midfielder to prove his worth all over again if need be.
In the end, Arsenal and Wilshere is a partnership that is necessary for the growth of the club.