Arsenal star Jack Wilshere believes his teammate Francis Coquelin is on course to become the complete midfielder.
Coquelin, who Arsene Wenger recently admitted he planned to sell in January before his sudden and unexpected transformation following his brief loan spell with Charlton Athletic, has been the surprise package at the Emirates Stadium this season.
But Wilshere insists he is not shocked that Coquelin is now in the process of establishing his status as Arsenal’s first-choice holding midfielder.
Wilshere: Coquelin can become the complete midfielder
"I've played with Francis in midfield since I was 15," Wilshere told the Gunners’ official match-day programme. "I used to wind him up by saying, ‘Listen, you do all the dirty work and the tackling and then let me have the ball!' But the thing is, he loves that side of it. He's really good at it, he's tenacious, the way he always goes after the ball. Not everyone has that ability to win the ball back and to be aggressive.
"I thought it was strange how he didn’t break through before because I've always felt that he could be the one to play in that position for us.
"I think there's much more to come from him as well. He's a great defensive midfielder, but going forward he was always a threat in the youth team. I think he can score goals too.”
Coquelin is yet to score a senior goal for Arsenal, but fans can expect the 23-year-old to add that aspect to his game over the coming months and years judging by Wilshere’s comments.
Coquelin has surprised everyone
Few Arsenal fans would have expected Coquelin to become such an important player, even as recently as December when he was recalled to the Emirates Stadium as cover for the injured Mikel Arteta.
But the French midfielder is now one of the first names on Wenger’s team-sheet; in the Gunners’ previous 10 Premier League fixtures, Coquelin has played 896 minutes out of a possible 900.
Arteta is now back in training following his ankle injury, but the Spaniard has a tough job on his hands forcing his way back into Wenger’s starting line-up, despite his status as club captain.
That Arsenal handed Coquelin a new long-term contract last month suggests Wenger may decide against signing a new top-level midfielder this summer, which may disappoint fans.
Sami Khedira a better option - but does Wenger agree?
With Sami Khedira expected to leave Real Madrid this summer, some supporters may feel the experienced Germany international would be a better option than Coquelin, despite his impressive recent performances.
Khedira, proven at every level and a true winner, would undoubtedly be a huge asset for Arsenal - and one suspects his presence would even help the Gunners win their first Premier League title since 2004.
But Wenger is a huge believer in young talent and, like Wilshere, clearly feels he is the best man for the job going forwards.
Arsenal fans: would you rather have Coquelin or Khedira in your midfield? Tell us by leaving a comment in the box below!