Currently injured, obviously, Jack Wilshere is yet to play for Arsenal this season.
The midfielder fractured his fibula towards the end of pre-season and, following surgery, is unlikely to be fit to play again in 2015.
It’s just the latest frustrating injury for Wilshere, but Barcelona legend (and one of the greatest midfielders of all-time) Xavi Hernandez still remembers him fondly.
“He played a fantastic game against us,” Xavi said to Sport magazine. At the age of 19, Wilshere put in a fine display against the then best team in the world Barcelona, managed by Pep Guardiola. Arsenal won 2-1 at the Emirates Stadium in 2011, and Wilshere received widespread acclaim.
“It’s just a shame he got injured so many times over the past two years,” the Spanish midfielder added.
“If he gets going and a bit of continuity as well, he may make the difference for both Arsenal and the English national team. He is a different kind of English player.”
But is he? And can he make the difference?
Wilshere – though more talented – isn’t dissimilar to Ross Barkley. English football is beginning to create more technical yet bullish midfielders, and Wilshere is certainly a leading example. As for making the difference for Arsenal? I’m not so sure.
It would be incredibly surprising for Wilshere to break up the current midfield of Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla were he fit. As for continuity, Wilshere played 47 Premier League games from November 2012 to March 2014 but failed to recapture the form that had seen his teenage self break into the Arsenal team.
Aaron Ramsey and now Santi Cazorla have brought the Gunners better results than Wilshere in the Englishman’s favoured midfield role, so what place is there for him?
He is adaptable and versatile, Xavi has that much right.
“Even though he has been nourished in a physical type of football, he is really talented, gifted for passing and he does not give the ball away. He does not seem to be English!”
He does definitely give the ball away, though.
Right now Arsenal need a right-midfielder. Going forward, that may well be Jack Wilshere’s way into the team. A well-fitted cog in a very good machine? Wilshere could be that, but difference maker? Not right now.