Jack Wilshere: Another extinguished talent from world football?
Hailed as a “wonder kid” whilst coming through the Arsenal academy, 23-year-old Jack Wilshere has failed to stay fit throughout a campaign since his breakthrough season at Arsenal in 2010/11. He was also named PFA Young Player of the Season for that campaign. Five years since and Wilshere has only managed about 100 appearances for the club.
Now he is once again ruled out having sustained an injury during training that has delayed his start to this year's campaign. His consistent injuries make me wonder; at the season of his retirement will he be associated with his footballing capacity or for the time he spent under treatment?
That is what brings me to ask the question. Will Arsenal's Jack Wilshere be unsuccessful at achieving his potential of being a world class player?
Gooner through and through
Gooners adore his passion, love for the club, his heart and aggression on the field. Jack Wilshere is a fan-favourite at the Emirates. Many supporters and critics would argue, saying that he already is a world class player and they are not wrong to believe so. But, Wilshere who was once the next big thing for Arsenal and England is now just another youngster with unfulfilled potential.
The Arsenal youngster had all the attributes that one would expect from Arsene Wenger's academy. He is skillful, technically gifted with an impressive range of passing, can dribble the ball well and covers a lot of ground in the midfield along with aggressive tackles that puts his name on the referee's books too.
Wilshere joined Gunners academy at the age of eight from Luton Town in 2001. Making his senior debut at 16 years and 256 days, he was deemed the next big thing to emerge out of the Gunners academy alongside Wenger's young team that would make for a brighter future at Arsenal (or at least it was perceived so). During his full debut season in the 2010/11 campaign, Wilshere made 44 starts for the club at just 17 years of age and managed to score two goals.
Naturally talented as he showed against Barcelona's best
Very much an overused talent considering he was still a youngster, and the Premier League was surely a bit excessively physical for his small body, making it extremely difficult to handle.
Before Arsenal faced Barcelona in the second leg at Camp Nou that season, the then manager Pep Guardiola praised Wilshere's ability, "Wilshere is a top player. He is an excellent player, not just Arsenal, but also for the national team." He also added that the youngster was lucky to play and claimed that the Barcelona reserve squad was filled with players matching the Englishman's potential.
Jack Wilshere ran the midfield against that Barcelona side in 2011 Champions League fixture aged just 19 years old. It was one of the finest teenage performances. With that performance, he set the bar for himself.
With such great expectations, a string of long-term injuries soon followed, starting with the knee at the beginning of the 2011/12 campaign. The injury kept him out of action for almost 18 months. On his return to the field, the Gooners waited patiently to see the Jack Wilshere they saw in his opening campaign and they are still waiting. However, he displayed glimpses of his talent on occasions to keep hopes alive but has failed to do so consistently.
However, it is difficult to comprehend why a player with Wilshere's potential did not become what was anticipated of him. Backtracking at Guardiola's statement, possibly Wilshere was overhyped at the time only in light of the fact that he was from England.
In my belief, the midfielder could not develop much from the gifted teenager who announced his arrival to the footballing world years ago. Definitely, injuries have severely troubled his growth as a player and, at 23; he still has time on his side to live up to the expectations.
Another reason is the potential position for Wilshere in an overly crowded Arsenal midfield. In spite of Wilshere's ability to play in any position across the midfield, the Arsenal manager says, "He is not a ball-winner. I believe he is more a guy who you want to get close to the final third. To keep him deep you take a big part of his efficiency away. He is a guy who likes to penetrate when there are many people, he can provoke free-kicks, and he can create openings. It would be detrimental to his strengths in a position that is not his strength."
On the contrary, he plays as a deep-lying playmaker for his country in recent times under manager Roy Hodgson and has seen a fair amount of success in that role.
As many others in recent times, Wilshere seems to add to the list of player's regrettably traversing the path of disappointment. His fighting spirit and aggression on the pitch indicates he is a fighter and with time still on his side the hope for a turn-around to his footballing future should not be ruled out.