With Bayern Munich now just a week away from yet another Champions League final, this time against Borussia Dortmund, the Bundesliga champions have the opportunity to rival Barcelona’s dominance in Europe and affirm themselves as the continent’s leading superpower. But looking further beyond the current season, Bayern are looking in the summer to add to their already stellar cast of top talents with the acquisition of their opponents’ two leading stars, Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski, in addition to Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere, according to The Metro.
The quality of the Gunners midfielder is well known, but should he be taking the opportunity to be signing for the German giants or stick by the club that has brought him so far already throughout his short career?
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My initial reaction is that the potential transfer has come far too soon. Not only has Wilshere signed a new five year contract this season, suggesting that from a personal perspective he sees his immediate future at the Emirates, but it is often forgotten that he is only 21 years of age. His ability and potential is unquestionable – Arsenal and England are a different and lesser team without his presence – but uprooting a youngster, who has been at the same club since being nine years old, is just as likely to unsettle him and stall his progress for a few seasons as it is to further raise his game.
Similarly, at the Emirates, his position in the Starting XI is undisputed when fit, assuring confidence and game time, whereas at Bayern, he will be competing with Bastian Schweinsteiger, Javi Martinez and Luis Gustavo for a slot in the first team – three central midfielders who’ve been exceptional in all competitions for the German champions. The club will not be so patient with his persistent injury problems, and there would be a long way back to regular action for Wilshere should he undergo a spell on the sidelines in comparison to Arsene Wenger’s willingness to play his star midfielder whenever his personal fitness situation will allow.
Furthermore, the transfer fee, which by the common consensus of the transfer market nowadays will be excessive and well over the £30million mark, despite having only made 61 Premier League appearances for the Gunners, would be a weight on the youngster’s shoulders and an experience he will have not felt before, having spent his entire career, including his apprenticeship, at the same club. In recent years we’ve seen the magnitude of a price-tag take the sting out of Fernando Torres’ game, and the Spaniard is not the first or the last to have his form crushed by the pressure of a big-money move.
But signing for such a prestigious club as Bayern Munich is the type of opportunity that is not available to the vast majority of professional footballers, and should not be passed up lightly. The club are certainly on the up, making it to their third Champions League final in the space of four years, whilst also claiming their 23rd domestic title this season. Furthermore, the German national team is privy to another generation of exceptionaltalent that is very much linked to Munich’s successes. The foreseeable future for the Barvarians only looks bright, and many a critic have argued that the Bundesliga will become the most dominant force in world football over the next few years.
It’s a stark contrast to the situation back in North London. Arsenal are a club currently caught amid a malaise that has seen the quality of the first team at the Emirates drop considerably since the days of ‘the invincibles’, with no silverware to add to the trophy cabinet for the past eight years. The Gunners may well have turned their season around and will most likely once again qualify for the Champions League, but they are still a long distance away from becoming a competitive force in the Premier League title race and challenging the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea.
The choice between a club struggling to maintain Champions League status and sliding down the domestic pecking order and another challenging for the winner’s trophy and winning the German league on a regular basis should be a no-brainer, yet Wilshere’s undying loyalty will certainly be a factor in his decision-making. As previously stated, he’s been part of Arsenal’s academy since he was nine years old, and justifiably feels indebted to a club that has brought him through the ranks and polished him into one of the most sought after youngsters in Europe, in addition to providing him with medical treatment throughout his difficult tenure on the sidelines.
But in the modern game, there is little reward for loyalty – just ask Steven Gerrard. The midfielder may well have been one of the best of his generation, but now at the age of 32 has only a handful of accolades from the early stages of his career to look back upon. He may well have a Champions League title and two FA Cups to his name, but in comparison to the achievements in terms of historical documentation and silverware of those at Manchester United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern Munich – the calibre of club he could have easily played for had he pursued a move away from Merseyside – the Liverpool captain is some way short.
The career of the ageing veteran should be a clear warning to Wilshere. Perhaps it is too soon to be seeking a higher calling, considering he is yet to play a full 38 games of Premier League season and only has seven international caps to his name, but it should certainly be a thought at the back of the Arsenal midfielder’s mind. Quite frankly, the Gunners are a losing ticket – Wenger is stuck in his old ways and lacks ambition, whilst the squad’s need for serious financial investment appears to still be a distant dream rather than a possible reality.
For Arsenal, Wilshere may well be a marvellous jewel in the crown, in a similar vein to Gerrard at Liverpool, for the rest of his career. He will no doubt be adored by the fans and become one of the club’s greatest ever players. But at a club of Bayern Munich’s stature, the scope for silverware, accolades and recognition as one of the world’s best is enormous, especially with a manager of Pep Guardiola’s calibre at the helm. Perhaps a summer departure is too premature, but the next time a real European power comes calling, Wilshere should take the escape route from the Emirates with both hands.