After a long season and much speculation about whether Jack Wilshere initially had a role to play this campaign and then into the future, it seems that speculation is about to end. The word is that Jack has or is about to, according to ‘my sources’ put the pen (Wenger thought he had lost) to paper, on a new 3 year deal with Arsenal. It has been widely reported throughout negotiations that the club wanted the player to take a pay cut because of his past injury and fitness issues. The compromise, it was suggested, was to build in elements of performance related enhancements that would over time take Wilshere back to a pay level appropriate to his seniority and ability, if he could stay fit and stay in the first team. My understanding is that the club now accept that he has proved he can stay fit and contribute fully to the team and the new deal, whilst still building in the future rises, does not impose the originally anticipated pay cut that the player would not accept.
The club therefore seem happy that Jack Wilshere has proved himself all over again and the new contract I understand will include an additional 1-year option, which would take him into his 30th year with his boyhood club. In theory, this contract for a dynamic central midfielder should mean Arsenal have secured the services of one of England’s finest talents for his peak years but many Arsenal fans are unconvinced. Will Jack ever again be the player who bossed the Premier League and the great Barca midfield as a teenager? Can he regain that characteristic burst of pace that enabled him to bypass opposition midfields and to give Arsenal an alternative way to open up a game and create space?
More immediately, as Gareth Southgate is set to announce his 23-man England squad next Wednesday for the World Cup in Russia has Wilshere done enough in an Arsenal shirt to convince his international manager? Will Jack and should Jack be on the Three Lions Plane? The global festival will be here before we know it and you can get all your Russia Word Cup 2018 odds now.
While the Arsenal faithful may be split on our Jack, I thought I would ask the Gunners Town writing crew their views on the situation both for club and ahead of the summer, for country. I asked them two questions:
- Are you pleased at the news and do you feel he can still play a key role for Arsenal?
- Do you feel he should be in Southgate’s World Cup squad to be announced on 16 May and will he start in Russia?
First up is James Howson who you can follow @BigJimmy_V
He’s had a whirlwind of a season has Jack, at the beginning I remember him playing in a reserves game vs Man City where he got sent off and wanted to fight half the City youth team in the car park. Everyone was saying he was done after that, but somehow he has managed to get his game back together and turn in some decent calm performances for the First team.
I am still not convinced about his fitness and at times, he looks a bit rusty and off the pace, but its undoubted when he is on his game he is one of the most gifted players in England.
With a new manager hopefully he can find his best position going forward but as with so many Arsenal players individually he’s super talented although how the manager sets the team up to use that talent is all important.
I think when you look at the English team in central midfield most of the players are the same, they are all defensive minded or just athletes who just run around a lot.
The one thing that Wilshere brings you is a guy who can sit in the middle of the park and affect the game, with his driving runs and metronome passing.
With The Ox missing the World Cup injured, Southgate would be a fool to not take Jack, even if it is just to have a player to bring on for something different versus a team they are struggling to break down.
What does our master of Arsenal yester year Gary Lawrence AKA @garythegooner56 make of Jack being part of Arsenal’s future?
I am delighted that Jack is staying. I have always liked him and I think it is important for the club’s identity that they have some high quality homegrown players in the squad.
He seems to have got over his frequent ankle injuries touchwood and shown great character in overcoming it and gradually getting his fitness back. He may never reach the heights that we all hoped for when as a kid he was the best midfielder on the pitch that night at the Emirates when we beat Barcelona. However, he still has great ability and added experience to his game now.
I also feel it would have been a big financial error by the club to let a talent like Jack, who loves the club, to walk away for nothing this summer.
As for England, for me he is technically by far the best English midfielder. I thought he was excellent a couple of years ago in that deep lying role and if Gareth Southgate has any sense that is where he should play Jack at the World Cup.
Next, a non-English perspective from my partner in crime and Co-Editor, Paul Hepker in South Africa. You may know him better as @invinciblog
I am not unhappy that Jack was offered a new contract. I am happy that there was not an increase in his wages. I believe he is already sufficiently well paid for what he offers the club.
He seems fitter, and I think he is the sort of squad player who could fulfill a role for the new manager, especially with another Europa campaign ahead.
As a footballer, he is still one of Arsenal’s most creative, forward-leaning individuals. He is good with ball at feet, and prepared to take on defenders – we desperately need players like that.
The new manager may be able to unlock hidden talents in Jack – perhaps in a deeper-lying role. The shifting role(s) of Cesc Fabregas may provide a roadmap. They have many similarities.
Replacing Jack with a similar, new, untested player would probably be as expensive in the long run, and there would be no guarantees. Continuity, especially with so much changing at the club, is a good thing.
I am hoping that Jack signing does not mean Ramsey is leaving. If I had to choose between them, I would definitely take Rambo. Sorry, Jack.
Regarding his England selection for the WC2018 – I would definitely take Jack to Russia. He is in decent form right now, and offers creativity in the midfield, and loads of experience under pressure.
Here is another international view, this time from across the pond and our very own Syracuse Tactician, Dougie @Dfresh10
I am massively pleased by the news of a new 3-year deal for Jack. He is proper Arsenal and technicality personified. I still feel he can play a key role but the system and next manager’s philosophical ideals must cater to his still set. He’s no longer a player suited to finding advanced, #10 type, pockets of space but rather a controlling midfielder reading the game from deep. I feel he needs to be in a midfield three that plays close together. He can be the technicality and ball carrier alongside players with pace, physicality, and range of passing.
He should 100% be in Southgate’s World Cup squad. He would suit one of the midfield 2 spots perfectly and pair well with the likes of Henderson, Dier and Livermore. He could bring the creativity and technicality while the others bring a robust physicality and ability to defend. Southgate opting for a back three means Jack can combine with close distance triangles and quick interplay. I think he will start one of the three group stage matches with Southgate opting for the safer Dier/Henderson combination in the others.
Last up for this piece is our enigmatic and prolific match previewer and reviewer, the man with no name @marblehalls_TV
Yes he should stay at Arsenal and I am not saying this out of sentiment, but because he can offer something creative to our team. As a new manager is in the offing, Jack can gain new insight and coaching, and we will see if he can truly fulfil his potential. His injury record has improved since he came back into the team this season.
Players like Henderson, Milner, Alli, Dier, etc. are shoe-ins. Wilshere adds something different and is not as functional as Milner, Henderson or Dier. I believe he gets in by default, since bar Alli there are few other creative presences. Rivalry aside, Alli has been substandard this season when compared to 15/16 and 16/17.
So it does not seem as if the Gunners Town crew are split on Jack with a universal thumbs up for Arsenal and for England.
As for me, I think everyone knows I am biased but I am honest enough to admit he is no guaranteed starter. I see him as the modern day Edu perhaps. He was never in anyone’s starting 11 if all were fit but you were never worried is he was! Like Edu he has the added bonus of standing in for Xhaka as a deeper passer as he has played for England under Hodgson and for Ramsey, to play more advanced and join the attack.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments or polls below: