Will Jack Wilshere be able to realize his potential and be a success at West Ham?
Jack Wilshere recently completed a move to West Ham on a contract worth £100,000 per week. With his contract at Arsenal getting over and the new manager Unai Emery's inability to assure him first-team football, it makes sense for Wilshere to come to West Ham as this gives him the opportunity to stay at London with his young family.
But will he be a success at West Ham? His time at Arsenal divides opinion. Though Arsenal fans adore him and his service for ten long years, many critics believe he could not live up to his reputation he showed early in his career at Arsenal.
Flying start to his career
It feels like Wilshere has been playing for an eternity. Ten years is quite a long length of time. But amazingly, he is just 26 years old. Having joined Arsenal in 2001 and spending seven years in the club's youth system, the Stevenage-born midfielder made his debut for Arsenal back at 2008.
At 16 years and 256 days, Wilshere became Arsenal’s youngest ever league debutant when he made a late 84th-minute substitute appearance for Robin Van Persie against Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park. Two years later, he would go on to make his senior England debut at a friendly against Hungary, making him the 12th youngest England debutant of all time.
His flying start to his career suggested Wilshere had everything one could possibly want from a central midfielder. With a great combination of energy, composure, aggression and an eye for a pass, it felt England had finally found a midfielder at the same level of Steven Gerrard or Paul Scholes.
His best performance in an Arsenal shirt came against Barcelona at home in the Champions League Last 16 first leg in 2011. Arsenal went on to win the match 2-1, with Robin Van Persie and Andrey Arshavin scoring late goals. But it was Wilshere's performance that caught the eye. Against a Barcelona side who had arguably the best squad at the time including world-class players like Messi, Iniesta and Xavi, it was Wilshere, aged 19, who bossed the midfield throughout the game.
When one talks about Wilshere's career, injuries becomes an important topic of discussion. From the season 11/12 to season 15/16, he has been injured 10 times. In this time frame, he has been out due to injury for 878 days and he has missed 150 games in the process. These are staggering numbers in a 5-season period. Many believe he could have been a top player had he not been injured for so many times. But there is no doubt that injuries have stunted his career growth.
Ray of hope
With his career seriously stunted at Arsenal, he was unable to break into the starting XI even when he was fit. Arsenal allowed him to go out on loan to Bournemouth to prove that he still got it in him to be a top player. In his season at Bournemouth, he played a majority of the games and was the mainstay of the team. His injury records improved as well as he was rarely out due to injury.
After the end of the season, he returned to Arsenal vying to get into their starting XI next season. It was tough for him at the start, as he was limited to making substitute appearances. But he still impressed in those appearances, which led him to make a start when Ramsey got injured. He was able to make good impressions from the start as well, making his midfield position his own. With injuries nowhere to be seen it felt like Wilshere has come out of his injury problems.
Will Wilshere come good for West Ham?
Asking whether Wilshere can come good isn’t to say he’s had a dreadful career. Actually, it is far from it, as this is a player who has represented his country 34 times and scored two international goals. To achieve his full potential and be a major player for West Ham, Wilshere needs to stay off the treatment table and be available to inspire the Hammers to league success by pushing them towards the top six and driving them forward in the cups.
The good news is that last season the 26-year-old made 38 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal, scoring twice and assisting six times. With Lanzini out for the season, this could be a huge signing for West Ham, as Wilshere likes to get forward and there are few players in the Premier League can match his vision.