Reading Jack Wilshere’s interview with the Daily Mail, it’s impossible not to think of it as a 2,000 word exit interview.
I know, you probably think I’m jumping the gun a little.
However, as I read this piece, all I could think of was the father of Cesc Fabregas.
In that painful summer of 2011, as Barcelona circled like vultures azulgranas, he was quoted in the Evening Standard. He said something like, Cesc is very clear that Arsenal are in the past for him.
Reading this wide ranging interview given to the Mail’s Matt Lawton, I get exactly the same sense from Jack. I mean, what else are you supposed to think when he says something like this? “I genuinely don’t know if I am going to end up at Arsenal or somewhere else.
‘If you’d asked me two months ago if I was going to finish my career at Arsenal then I would have said, “Yeah, of course”.
We have all heard Jack’s repeated declarations of love for Arsenal, we have all witnessed the “Whaddaya think of Tottenham?” business and yet, here we are, with Jack clearly thinking – although he says he isn’t – about life beyond London, N5.
I don’t blame him for that, by the way.
In fact, bearing in mind the fact that he is now playing for Bournemouth, I think it’s only natural. As I have observed in the past, though, that we are here at all is something I feel doesn’t bode well for Jack’s Arsenal future.
Over the last three years, I have continuously returned to one, central, idea regarding Jack Wilshere’s place in the Arsenal first team; talented as he is, in every position he can play in, someone else can do it better.
Number 10? Mesut Özil (you may have heard of him); deep lying playmaker? Santi Cazorla and you all know how I and – more importantly – Arsène Wenger feel about him.
On the right wing? He may be a better footballer than Theo Walcott, but doesn’t offer the destructive nature of threat that Theo does there.
Unless there are a pile of broken bodies in the medical room, Jack is not going to start games regularly. This is something he is obviously aware of. “I’d decided that I couldn’t have a season where I’m not starting. I spoke to the boss and he said, “You will play”. But I wanted more than that. I want to play week in, week out, be an important player for the team.”
I should note that we’re talking about a player who has struggled for fitness for years now.
It seem like it’s been almost constant since his breakthrough season in 2010/11.
Nobody seriously doubts his quality. However, as the sad case of Abou Diaby demonstrates, all the quality in the world will not save you if you can’t stay fit. The fact is that we have come along way since the Song-Fabregas- Wilshere axis of 2010/11; it just feels as though Jack has been left behind a little bit and therefore become less important to the team.
Certainly not as important as he would like.
If this needed underlining for him then, this summer, then the signing of Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach certainly would have done the trick. Reflecting on that signing, Jack says, “There were a lot of midfielders and the manager brought another one in, I’d been injured for a while, and I was thinking I was at a stage of my career where I needed to play.
And, as if that wasn’t enough, Samuel Allardicio’s first, and only, England squad must have been a real kick in the teeth. This, more than anything else, seems to have been the catalyst for Jack’s decision to leave the club he has been at since the age of nine.
“It was the final straw… It hurt not being in there.”
So, after the Reebok Stadium travesty of 2003, something else to thank Mr Allardyce for then.
It’s a sign of the times, I suppose, that a conversation which may normally have begun after training, in the manager’s office, was initiated by text message.
Kids these days, huh?
It sounds as though Jack is happy where he is and, when you read of how he “…wanted to get away from it all, get away from London”, you think to yourself, well, why would he want to come back? That feeling is only heightened by Jack referring to Arsenal staff and players in the past tense.
It’s as though he’s made a decision subconsciously, but hasn’t quite realised it himself yet,
“I’ve got a lot of friends there. Not just the players. The staff. I’ve known many of them most of my life. They’ve been a big part of my life.”
That sense is only heightened by what he goes onto say about growing up at Arsenal.
For me, sitting here today, I find it difficult to imagine that Jack will return to Arsenal for good. However, as his own experience shows, you never know what’s around the corner and things can change very quickly.
Mesut Özil’s new contract is yet to be confirmed, whilst Santi Cazorla is apparently waiting on a contract extension. Until the futures of those two are resolved, only a fool would make an assertion about Wilshere’s Arsenal career.
(insert your own joke here)
Perhaps it really is as simple as Jack getting a season under his belt and returning to the number 10 shirt he vacated in the summer.
I just wouldn’t bet on it.