When Bournemouth were promoted to the Premier League a couple of years ago, a signing of the calibre of Jack Wilshere would have been unthinkable. The small, seaside club were expected to have dropped straight back down to the Championship without a trace, but are very much still here, and here to stay.
By signing the Arsenal midfielder, Bournemouth have captured one of England’s best prospects, a technically proficient player and still only 24. He might not be perfect, and has not played as much football as he would have wanted over his career, but still has unquestionable talent.
He reportedly turned down AC Milan and Roma to sign for Eddie Howe’s side, and could make his debut against the former on Saturday, in a testimonial match for club legend Warren Cummings.
Wilshere could well turn out to be the signing of the summer: there are better players that have arrived at new teams this season – Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan just for starters – but they all arrived for big money, at bigger clubs where capturing elite players is the norm.
For a team like Bournemouth – who went into administration in 2008 – to be able to attract such a player is a massive coup. Relative to the stature of the club that Wilshere has joined, he could be the best signing any team has made all summer.
Of course, the only reason that Wilshere moved clubs was because he was deemed not good enough for Arsenal at the moment. Injuries have robbed him of significant parts of his career. But if Wilshere can get a run of games together, he is a class act, and has shown that in the past.
His technical ability is supreme, and he has won the BBC Goal of the Season award in two out of the last three seasons, despite playing so little. For Bournemouth, the gamble over his fitness is worth it, because the reward of his talent is so big. For Arsenal, he is someone they can do without, but could regret the decision if he finds some form.
Wilshere adds creativity and quality to Howe’s team, and is on another level to the players they already have. Sometimes having a player seen as being much better than the rest can cause tension, but Wilshere arrives with a point to prove.
Much like Joe Hart, he has accepted a move down from the elite to save his career. He will give everything, for sure, and should become a fan-favourite on the south coast, even if expecting him to play every match might be a little unrealistic.
If Wilshere can stay fit, then what a player he is. With his attributes of passing and dribbling, with a high level of agility, he suits Bournemouth’s game down to the ground, and it is easy to see how he fits in.
Wilshere might only be on loan, but for a club like Bournemouth to get his signature could be a pivotal moment in their history. In the past, players like him simply would not play for clubs like them, and for that reason he is up there with the best signings of the window. Make no mistake, Wilshere is a major coup.
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