Not much about Arsenal has made sense of late. At their lowest ebb in years, Champions League football may finally elude Arsene Wenger after two decades of constantly securing it, while Tottenham Hotspur are all but certain to finish above the Gunners at long last.
Still, rather than finally parting ways with Arsene Wenger after over twenty years in charge this summer, all the indications seem to point towards another year or two for the Frenchman. While that decision is likely to spark even more debate amongst the club’s seemingly divided fanbase, he’s not the only one to be handed a probable new deal by top brass this summer.
Recent reports suggest Jack Wilshere is in line for another contract this summer, despite seeing his loan move to Bournemouth present him with even more problems. Having struggled with injuries over the past few years, relocating to the south coast for a year was supposed to afford the England international time and space to rediscover his best form.
Though injuries (until recently) haven’t plagued the midfielder nearly as much as they had during his last few years in north London, Wilshere just hasn’t been that good for the Cherries. Indeed, he’s only been able to record two assists for Eddie Howe’s side this season, despite playing reasonably regularly (27 PL appearances) and will now surely be an afterthought for Gareth Southgate at international level.
So, why bother giving him a new deal? While Arsenal’s midfield hasn’t been much to shout about this season, the presence of Granit Xhaka and Santi Cazorla surely provide better options, with the likes of Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny there to support them. Barring any huge upturn in form, Wilshere looks to be the odd man out and Wenger’s No.10 is at sixes and sevens.
To many, Arsenal’s reported decision to open talks with him over extending his contract lends itself to the same old, same old feeling to have seen the club struggle to progress in recent years.
However, if he does indeed pen a new deal at the club, it could be their smartest transfer decision in years. Let’s not forget, this is a side who allowed captain Robin van Persie enter the final year of his contract before leading Manchester United to a league title under Sir Alex Ferguson, one who’ve failed to wholly convince in the transfer market for what must seem like an eternity to the supporters.
Giving Wilshere a fresh contract makes total sense. Despite his problems, the 24-year-old is undoubtedly a talented player, one touted as a potential target for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City only recently. Granted, he’s since suffered a fractured leg injury, though links with a move to the Etihad came despite a poor season with Bournemouth.
Furthermore, considering the premium imposed on English talent in the transfer market, Arsenal protecting their asset is actually sound financial planning. A cynical way of looking at it perhaps, though the sort of mentality desperately required by a club so often let down by their naivety.
It’s hard to imagine Wilshere not having a rather large list of suitors, from home and abroad. At 24, he still has the chance to embark on a solid career in the Premier League, even if he never truly embarks on the upward trajectory many prophecised for him years ago. Failing that, the kind of profile he carries will invariably make him an attractive option to either teams on the continent, or even the Chinese Super League.
Arsenal have been naive with Wilshere over the years, though are finally dealing with his situation in the right way. Now, it’s just for the rest of the team.