The personnel upheaval that we saw in January is likely to continue this summer as German recruitment guru Sven Mislintat sets about overhauling the squad.
One of the names that is sometimes mentioned in lists of players who might be on the way out is Jack Wilshire. The midfielder’s contract is up at the end of June, and although the club have offered him a new deal, he hasn’t yet accepted it. According to reports in the media, the deal is less than his current one, though it includes incentives. That is down to Wilshire’s record with injuries, but it doesn’t seem that the club are attempting to move him on; indeed, Arsène Wenger has spoken of his hope that Wilshire will stay. Yet so far, his future at Arsenal remains in doubt.
Although it is clear that the squad needs work, and Arsenal fans will be hoping to see plenty of new arrivals of the calibre of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang this summer, they will be reluctant to see Wilshire leave. As of now, most bookmakers rate Arsenal as sixth favourites to win the 2018/19 Premier League, and if they’re going to see those odds shorten, player retention is just as crucial as recruitment.
Part of the speculation about the club’s possible willingness to let Wilshire go is down to his history of injuries. He missed the whole of the 2011/12 season and part of the following campaign with an ankle injury and has also had several weeks out with a broken foot, fractured fibula and ligament damage. His bad luck with injuries continued last season while on loan with Bournemouth, when he suffered another fibula fracture.
However, he has been back to something like his best this season, and he remains a firm favourite of the Arsenal fans. For a start, he is one of the few players left in the game who can be considered a “one-club man.” He has been part of the Arsenal setup since he was eight, having come through the ranks, and has never suggested that he wanted to leave. His passion for the Gunners has occasionally got him into trouble, but that only endeared him more to supporters. In an age where footballers can appear aloof, Wilshire gives the impression that he knows how much the club means to fans.
Above all, Wilshire is a high-class player with a lot to offer. His dribbling ability, vision and passing technique make him one of the most complete midfielders in English football, and if not for his injury problems, he would surely have earned more than his 34 international caps – and at the age of 26, he is in his prime.
No matter which new players Arsenal bring in this summer, Wilshire has the talent and commitment to play a major role in the Gunners’ new-look squad, and the club should do all they can to retain his services for what could be an exciting campaign in 2018/19.