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Jack Wilshere deserves one last crack at Arsenal

Wednesday 25th January 2017
Despite thriving during the first half of a season-long loan aimed at rebuilding his confidence and general love of playing football, Jack Wilshere is reportedly still in the dark about whether boyhood club Arsenal want to retain his services. If Arsene Wenger does decide to sell this summer, it would be nothing short of a tragedy.

When Wilshere returns, he'll only have one year remaining on his current deal, which will force Wenger into making a decision: cut his losses and sell, or hand the England man one final lifeline. For the sake of the club, player, and English football, it's vital that the north London club chooses the latter.

A quick look at other English talent on Arsenal's books would arguably suggest that a summer exit is sensible. The likes of Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have all struggled to fulfil the prophecies once forecast while injuries have also had a disruptive impact too. However, Walcott aside, none of them have been touted as the future of English football with any real conviction – and even the 27-year-old's credentials for reaching the very top were dead long before his 25th birthday.

Wilshere is different.

The midfielder who turned 25 on January 1st has had his fair share of problems both on and off the field, but his immense natural ability has never been in question. At his best, Wilshere combines attributes of a classy Spanish technician with the bulldog approach of a combative British grafter. And for all the jokes about being made of plywood, his time at Bournemouth has underlined a physical strength and robustness.

Moreover, a year away from the city life and headlines of being at Arsenal has worked wonders off the field. Wilshere now appears more focused and dedicated than ever before. In simple terms, he has matured into a man. While a return to the capital would bring risks, he can knuckle down to truly unleash his talent.

The key question as to whether staying at the Emirates would be wise is essentially broken into two elements: is it the best option for him; and is it the best option for Arsenal. In both aspects, the answer is an emphatic yes.

If Arsenal are ever going to end their title drought, the central midfield problems need solving. Throwing money at Granit Xhaka has been futile due to the player's lack of discipline while Santi Cazorla is slowly but surely edging towards a stage where he'll need to take a backseat role. Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny, and Aaron Ramsey are all great on their days and can play a role, but the Gunners are crying out for reliability. On the evidence of his time at Bournemouth, Wilshere can provide it.

Nevertheless, the England man faces an uphill battle as he attempts to make up for lost time. With no disrespect to Bournemouth, next season is the start of a crucial period in which Wilshere needs to play at the highest standard possible. Sadly, unless Pep Guardiola is prepared to take a risk, a departure from Arsenal would result in taking a step down. For a player that will be determined to shine on the biggest stages, this simply isn't an option – especially as next season leads up to a World Cup.

Wilshere still has time on his side and enjoys a solid relationship with the club and its fans. A one or two-year extension would give him one final shot at making the top. And if he fails, Arsenal would still be in a position to command a decent resale in the summer of 2018.
Liam Newman
Liam is a freelance football writer published by Shoot, Goal, Bleacher Report, Late Tackle, Blowing Bubbles, SportsKeeda, These Football Times, Football Whispers, and more. He supports West Ham and has watched England play in over 35 countries.

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