COMMENT By Matt Farr
The debate goes on as to whether Jack Wilshere will be an Arsenal player next season. The 25-year-old midfielder has been at the club since 2008, but he could be set to depart at the end of the season.
Wilshere is currently on loan at fellow Premier League outfit Bournemouth, but while his stay at the south coast club is set to come to a close in the summer, so could his time with the Gunners.
His contract is due to expire in June, and as of yet the signs don’t look good for him in terms of his Arsenal future.
Football Insider reveals three reasons why Wilshere and Arsenal have already gone their separate ways.
Never mind Wilshere, will Arsene Wenger even be at Arsenal next season? Wenger was the one that took Wilshere from the youth setup, helped him fulfil his potential, and aided his development into a key first-team player.
However, the veteran Gunners boss appears to be nearing the end of his 20 year-long tenure, with his contract also set to expire at the end of the current campaign.
There has been no movement yet on a new deal for Wenger, while there have been reports in the media over his potential successors.
However, so long as the future of the Arsenal boss remains up in the air, so will the future of Wilshere. Arsenal don’t know who will be leading the club next year and beyond, and Wilshere will be caught up in the middle of it.
If he does sign a new deal under Wenger, but a new manager takes charge next season, there is no guarantee that he will be considered part of their plans.
In fact, it’s not even certain what Wenger wants to do with him, and that uncertainty means he is already headed for the Emirates exit.
Lack of movement – Arsenal have moved on
Wenger has though, taken the opportunity to extend the deals of a number of his current first-team stars. Santi Cazorla, Per Mertesacker and Hector Bellerin are among the names that have committed their long-term futures to the club, but there has still been no movement for Wilshere.
Is that because he is not currently at the club? They may be waiting until the end of the season to make a decision, but the longer they wait, the more Wilshere will begin to feel as though he is not valued by Arsenal.
The lack of negotiations with just months left to go suggest that the Gunners may have decided to move on. They brought in Granit Xhaka in the summer, adding to an already congested senior midfield unit of Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny and Aaron Ramsey.
Wilshere’s summer switch to Bournemouth did catch many by surprise, but the benefits of the move have since been proven.
Wilshere has been able to build up his fitness following his lengthy injury lay-off and play regularly in a first-team environment – which was the main aim for Arsenal. The added bonus for the player is that he is valued by Bournemouth, and held in high regard by manager Eddie Howe.
Should he return to Arsenal, there are no guarantees that he will have a regular role. At Bournemouth, he is a key player. That feeling of being loved by the club will no doubt play an important part of any decision Wilshere will make about his future, and it is likely to see him decide to party ways with his parent club.
One of the main criticisms of Wilshere during his time at Arsenal was his inability to stay fit for prolonged periods of time. Until this week, the midfielder had stayed injury-free at Bournemouth, which was a positive sign.
However, he was forced off in the defeat to Manchester City on Monday with an ankle injury, and could be set to spend time out on the sidelines.
It’s a worry for Arsenal, because they will no doubt have been looking for Wilshere to prove his fitness to the club before making a decision on whether to offer him a new deal.
His injury by no means completely rules out a deal. However, his progress and recovery following the injury will be closely monitored, and if he shows signs of weakness or struggles to get back to his best form, then it will definitely be curtains for him.
Arsenal have already lost a number of important players to injury this season – they spent the last two weeks with just two fit senior central midfielders – and adding an injury-prone Wilshere to the ranks would not help at all.
In other Arsenal transfer news, the Gunners are set to battle it out with their north London rivals for the signature of this highly-rated forward.