“Jack Wilshere came on the scene and what a top young player he looked, but he’s never really gone on… Injuries haven’t helped him, but he doesn’t look any better a player now than when he was 17.”
That was Paul Scholes’ cutting assessment of Jack Wilshere in March of 2014, and it still rings true.
Wilshere became Arsenal’s youngest ever debutant in 2008, and hopes were always high for the midfielder. His performances in an Arsenal shirt earned him the PFA Young Player of the Year in the 2010–11 season, after an impressive loan spell at Bolton the previous season.
A broken ankle meant that Wilshere missed the entire 2011-12 season, including Euro 2012, but Wilshere eventually returned and continued to shine.
Wilshere was praised for his technical ability, earning early comparisons with Gunners legend Liam Brady, and Arsene Wenger claimed that Wilshere had “Spanish technique, but an English heart.” A man of the match performance against Barcelona in 2012 did little to quash expectations, and Wilshere was being touted as a future captain for club and country.
Wilshere is now 24, and his talent remains largely unfulfilled. Injury, inconsistency and questions over his attitude (he has been pictured smoking more than once) have hampered his development. He has managed just 12 goals in 157 appearances for Arsenal, which simply isn’t good enough given his immense talent.
Persistent injury problems mean that the box-to-box midfielder has failed to make more than 25 league appearances since the 2010-11 season, and he managed just three last season.
Five years ago, he was being heralded as the brightest emerging talent in England. Yesterday, he signed for Bournemouth on loan.
He has been omitted from Sam Allardyce’s first England squad. Dele Alli has taken over his mantle as England’s most promising midfielder, and Jamie Vardy and Adam Lallana were playing non-league and League One football respectively when Wilshere burst onto the scene.
Paul Scholes was right in 2014, and nothing has changed.
Wilshere’s move to Bournemouth could be the perfect solution for all parties involved, however. Eddie Howe is an excellent young manager, and Bournemouth’s style of play should accommodate their new loan signing perfectly.
The dynamic midfielder needs to prove he can play consistently without injury, and that he is good enough to slot into an Arsenal midfield which is always blessed with an abundance of talent.
Paul Merson, though, has warned that there could be drawbacks to the move;
“If he starts ripping things up like we know he can at Bournemouth, and Arsenal lose two or three games on the trot, there are going to be some serious questions asked. After all, Wilshere started at the Euros for England not so long ago so to come back from that to a year loan could hurt the player.”