Arsenal are rumoured to be looking to loan out Jack Wilshere.There was Twitter wide condemnation of this news.
And I completely agree. Jack Wilshere should not be loaned out. He should be sold.
Jack Wilshere made his Arsenal debut at 16, and became Arsenal’s youngest ever league debutant at 16 years, 256 days. In 2011 he had a performance against Barcelona that had the world purring. When Cesc Fabregas left, we shrugged our shoulders as we had Jack Wilshere.
And Arsenal lad with the pride and passion of a local boy, but the technical ability of a La Masia graduate. It was a matter of when, rather than if, he would become Arsenal captain.
In football however things rarely progress how is expected. And with Jack Wilshere that is certainly the case.
That game against Barcelona in 2011, when Wilshere was barely 19, is still the zenith of his career. It was over 5 years ago.
2010/11 was Wilshere’s breakthrough year. He went from graduate talent and Bolton loanee to the future of Arsenal. The future of England. He played 35 of the 38 Premier League games, a total of 2652 league minutes.
England debut. PFA Young Player of the Year. PFA Team of the Year. Arsenal Player of the Season. All in the space of 10 months.
And then it all started to unravel.
During the summer leading into the 2011–12 season, Wilshere suffered a stress fracture ankle injury during an Emirates Cup pre-season friendly against New York Red Bulls.
The provisional expectation was it would not keep him out too long. He did not play a game all season.
In fact, in total, this injury kept Wilshere out for 17 months – 524 days. It was going to be a sign of things to come.
Ankle injuries, a body which breaks down, and a body which takes a long time to recover.
Off field behaviour aside, and there have been many a distasteful incident when injured, Jack Wilshere has simply not played enough football for Arsenal to justify wearing that shirt.
Between 2011 and today, he has completed 4,326 minutes of Premier League football from a possible 17,370. Last season is was just 141 minutes.
Back in the day we used to mock Spurs for Darren Anderton. Liverpool for Jamie Redknapp. Two brilliantly talented players who spent more time on the beaches of the world than the football pitch.
In response to our mocking, they used to reply by pointing out the talent the players had. That when they do finally get fit they would be England’s two best players. But neither ever really got fit. Never fulfilled their talent.
In Jack Wilshere we have a player of similar ilk.
A lot of fans gave Arsene Wenger dogs abuse for sticking with Abou Diaby. And rightly so.
But it seems those fans who wanted Diaby out, said we should have got rid of him, are then supporting Jack Wilshere.
If Wenger game Diaby too many chances because he is French, are you not giving Wilshere too many chances because he is English?
In Diaby’s last 6 years at Arsenal, he played 4,105 minutes. Just 200 minutes short of what Jack has done in the last 6 years. Neither is acceptable.
It is hard to see where Wilshere fits in when everyone is fit.
He has never really developed as the defensive midfielder Roy Hodgson hoped he would become.
Granit Xhaka – who incredibly is younger than Wilshere – put in a performance against Watford at a level we have never seen Jack play for over half a decade. He is the player Wilshere could have become.
Moving forward, he has Aaron Ramsey and Santi Cazorla ahead of him in the pecking order to play central midfield behind Mesut Ozil.
That leaves Wilshere on the bench. And you would rather see Cazorla (or Ramsey) come on ahead of him when we need to change a game. And Elneny come on ahead when we need to see out a game.
In fact, when everyone is fit (and I know it’s a big, unrealistic ask), would Jack Wilshere even make the bench? Ospina, Gibbs, Per, Elneny, Cazorla, Perez, Welbeck.
He potentially wouldn’t.
So here we have a player who can not be relied upon. His body can not be trusted. We as fans grimace every time he goes down, fearing the worst. Will he come back up?
He gets substituted after taking a knock. We wonder if we will see him again. His reliability it not better than Diaby. A player we all said Wenger should have got rid of at 24. And here is Jack Wilshere, now 24 himself.
Maybe a loan deal will actually be good for him.
Wilshere needs to prove that he can play a full season. Arsenal can not give him that opportunity. As things stand, he doesn’t make our first XI. So he does not get the chance to prove his fitness, to fulfil his undoubted talent, to force his way in.
A loan deal to a Premier League club would give him the chance to do that. But then again, based on the last 5 years, it is only a matter of time until he breaks down again.
Jack Wilshere is a talent. But a talent who can not be relied upon to play.