Wilshere's decision to go out on loan is a brave move on his part but only if he goes outside his comfort zone - otherwise how much will he really benefit?
When Arsene Wenger said the last three days of the transfer window would be the busiest of them all he certainly wasn’t exaggerating. Arsenal have since confirmed two new arrivals for fees of £35m and £17m respectively, had several first team players linked with loan moves away from the club and even been touted to make an extremely unlikely deadline day signing.
The curious of all of those stories is Jack Wilshere’s decision to demand a loan move away from the club.
England midfielder Wilshere, who has been overlooked by new Three Lions boss Sam Allardyce due to his recent lack of game time for the Gunners, has fallen down the pecking order in midfield at Arsenal following the big-money arrival of Granit Xhaka from Borussia Monchengladbach. Added to the fact that Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey, Francis Coquelin and even Mohamed Elneny are more likely to be picked than the 24-year-old right now, it is understandable as to why Wilshere has been forced to look elsewhere, albeit temporarily.
A footballer leaving a club, whether it’s permanent or on loan, generally comes with negative connotations regarding the player’s condition, ability or mentality. Wilshere’s injury problems have become a burden to his own personal development over the years but the start of the 2016/17 season was enough reason to be optimistic for the player dubbed “the future of English football” by Barcelona legend Xavi. His pre-season ironically ended in injury but there were no real signs of him being substitute material for the opening few games.
If a player wants to leave, you shouldn’t stand in his way. That’s a philosophy Wenger has lived by throughout his managerial career and one that has helped him win the respect of many former players along the way. From Nicolas Anelka to Samir Nasri, the 66-year-old has a proven track record of selling and loaning players at the right time. In what could be Wenger’s final season of his 20-year reign as Arsenal boss, there remains a lingering disappointment that Wilshere hasn’t achieved what was expected of him when he first broke through into the Gunners senior squad.
Wenger will argue that he doesn’t have his favourites at Arsenal but Wilshere is someone who he has stuck by through thick and thin. From the two times he was photographed smoking (three if you count shisha) to hiding behind bins outside a London nightclub after another alleged incident, it’s fair to say that Wenger could have easily cut his losses and given up on the player when plenty other managers would have.
There has been much less of Wilshere on the front pages since he got engaged to Andriani Michael, perhaps a sign that the party boy Jack has started to mature. He has two kids with a previous partner and they will both be in his mind when making a decision on his whereabouts for the coming a season. With over 20 clubs interested in signing him on loan, it’s a decision making process which will be difficult and somewhat challenging to make in less than a day.
Crystal Palace are favourites to sign him due to their manager and location. Wilshere would walk straight into Palace’s midfield ahead of Joe Ledley but it could be argued that the former Bolton loanee would be better off going out of his comfort zone instead of staying in London. A season abroad, developing and immersing himself in a new footballing culture could benefit both Wilshere and Arsenal. The links with Italian giants Roma are genuine and they currently have Wilshere’s close friend and Arsenal team-mate Wojciech Szczesny on loan at the club which could play a huge part in a potential move, while fellow Serie A outfit Juventus are also interested.
Arsenal fans wanting Wilshere to stay at the club and fight for his place with near enough five midfielders in front of him should consider what that could mean. It would undoubtedly see an unhappy player become even more frustrated with his lack of game-time, something that could see him being restricted to cameo substitute appearances and rare starts in the EFL Cup. An injury free, season-long loan in a team where he's playing regular football can only go some way to rejuvenating a player who still has time to be the face of Arsenal and England over the next few years.
As Xavi said, “If Wilshere can put the injuries behind him, there is no reason why he still can't be one of the best midfield players in Europe.” Spain’s best still believes and with a little time away from Arsenal he won't be the only one.