So I wrote a blog on Wednesday after, scheduled for 8:30am Thursday morning. The jist was simple. It has all gone quiet with Jack Wilshere. 20 minutes before the blog was due to go live, news started to break over some comments made by Wilshere on England duty.
I was proper mugged off.
Before getting into things fully, I feel I need to address something about what Wilshere actually said:
“He gave me the opportunity [to leave] with three or four weeks left in the transfer window,” Wilshere said. “He said, ‘I am going to be honest with you and at the moment we are not going to be offering you a contract, so if you can get a contract somewhere else, you can go’.
The situation Wilshere was talking about was not the present, but the past. He was talking about what happened in the summer. And this has then just exploded onto Twitter and other social media as if it was happening today.
It was not exactly breaking news that Arsenal had told Jack that he could leave in the summer. It was fairly well know, a badly kept secret. Arsenal had told him he could leave, a few offers came in that were accepted, but the ball as always in his court. He decided to turn down a move, stayed at Arsenal and fought for his place.
He is talking about it now, but it is the situation last summer he is talking about. Whilst he is yet to sign a new deal, I believe Arsenal’s position has changed. The club, and Arsene Wenger, no longer wish him to leave any time soon.
As with everything, it has created a lot of fuss, a lot of fuss about nothing.
But what it has done is expose something that I have felt for some years.
When it comes to Jack Wilshere, a lot of fans think with their heart rather than their head. They see Wilshere (wrongly) as one of them, one of the fans, a local lad and the club should do everything they can to keep him.
The reality is somewhat different.
Wilshere has struggled for fitness throughout his Arsenal career. He is now 26 and has played a little over 120 Premier League games for Arsenal. Whilst his injury record has cleared up this season, you still wince every time he go’s down.
He is a good player, delightful on the ball, that is clear. But you could also question if he is good enough? If we are dreaming about the player he could have become when he broke through at 17, rather than the player he has become at 26.
Since his return to the Arsenal first team, he has put in some very good performances. But he has also put in some poor ones.
He does not escape criticism from the poor team performances against Bournemouth, Ostersunds FK, Manchester City and Brighton. In those games, he was not a shining light in a poor team, he was as culpable as Mesut Ozil, as Alex Iwobi, as Petr Cech in the defeats.
Wilshere has earnt a new contract, that is not an argument to be had. The argument is on whose terms does he deserve it.
He has been at Arsenal for a long time. Up until last summer, Arsenal had stuck with him, rehabilitated him. He failed to play a league game in 2011/12. Played just 3 in 2015/16. And Arsenal stuck with him.
We want to offer him a deal where his basic is lower, but appearances fees take him above and beyond what he is on now. A fair deal with his injury record. He seems to be holding out for at least parity in basic on what he is on now, some rumours say he is expecting an increase.
A debate can be had either way on what should happen, depending on if you are thinking with your head or heart. And it is the heart that I am about to discuss.
Wilshere get’s an easy ride with the fans. He is English, been at the club since he was 9, “loves” the club and his passionate. It is easy as an Arsenal fan to love Wilshere.
So let’s take Jack Wilshere out of the scenario.
Imagine it is another player currently in contract dispute with the club. He has had an injury wrecked Arsenal career, put in some great performances, as well as some poor ones. What should we do?
Say that person is Aaron Ramsey.
Ramsey is injured once again. He seems to pick up one muscle injury a season ruling him out for about 10 games. He is occasionally brilliant, occasionally poor, often somewhere in between.
The Welshman’s contract runs out in 2019. And the differing views between Ramsey and Wilshere is stark.
Whilst many defend Wilshere, say the club should pay him what he wants, they also abuse Ramsey, say the club should get rid, that he is no good. They say Ramsey is greedy for being in his current contract situation.
But when you look at both Wilshere and Ramsey’s career, it is Ramsey who has done more for Arsenal than Wilshere. So the criticism of one (Ramsey) and support for another (Wilshere) is just a little odd.
Premier League Minutes (last 4 years)
Aaron Ramsey: 7353 minutes
Jack Wilshere: 3840 minutes
Wilsheres minutes include the 27 games he played for Bournemouth. For Arsenal he has played less than 2000 minutes of Premier League football in 4 years. Ramsey might have his injury issues, but Wilshere’s are clearly worse.
Premier League Goals
Aaron Ramsey: 35 goals
Jack Wilshere: 7 goals
There is no argument, Ramsey is the bigger goal threat. He also has double the assists. He is a threat, Wilshere is not.
Of course, Wilshere’s game is not just about goals (I am not going to start talking about second assists), but everything you look at – distance covered, tackles, interceptions – Ramsey is superior.
It baffles me why people defend the inferior player. The only reasoning is that they are thinking with their heart, not their head.
Ramsey should be an Arsenal hero, borderline legend status.
Before you spit your tea out, hear me out.
Aaron Ramsey scored the FA Cup winning goal in 2014. He repeated the feat in 2017. He has played every minute of all 3 FA Cup Finals. 300+ minutes of FA Cup Final football. In comparison, Wilshere has played 27 minutes over the two finals he was at the club for.
Ramsey was rumoured to be fed up with the way fans treat him in comparison to Wilshere. Whilst I think it is bollocks, you can kind of see why.
It will always baffle me how a fan can sit and defend Wilshere one minute, then the next go on the attack against Ramsey.
Finally on Wilshere, if he does leave Arsenal ,where will he actually end up?
What club will want to spend £120k a week on an injury prone Central Midfielder?
We used to mock Darren Anderton in the 1990s for being sicknote. He averaged 25 league games a season for Spurs. Wilshere is averaging 18 league games a season for Arsenal since2010. What top club will want invest a player who is only available 50% of the time? Maybe Liverpool, but they are stupid.
You then look outside the top 6. Leicester City, Everton. Those sort of clubs. Wilshere will fit right in with them. It is probably his level at the minute. Top half / mid table sides. That is where Arsenal are the minute, it is probably where Wilshire belongs.
But at £120k+ a week, sides will want to be a team around him with Wilshere as the centre piece, the lynch pin. But with his injury record, will they be willing to invest that sort of money into someone so injury prone? Who knows.
The fact that last year Sampdoria were the nearest to his signing shows the level he is at. Rumours of Juventus and AC Milan, I just can not see happening.
Clubs will buy Wilshere using their head, not their heart. And the head will show that he is an inconsistent injury prone player. I imagine they would much rather sign Aaron Ramsey over him.
For Arsenal to win the league, we need to buy better than Jack Wilshere.
The argument of “it will cost more to replace him” is pointless when we need to buy better than him even if he stays. We need to spend big on a central midfielder this summer. Wilshere staying does not change that.
If Wilshere does go, it will be a sad day. I will look back at the player he was in 2010 and think what a talent has been wasted.
8 years of bad tackles and injuries. He has never reached the potential he showed and, at 26, will probably never reach that potential.
I want Wilshere to stay, but if his Arsenal journey is over, so be it. We move on. The heart might cry but the head will say his time is up.