Jack Wilshere is facing serious competition for his Arsenal place next season as Arsene Wenger embarks on a plan to add two new names to his first-team squad.
According to the Telegraph, the Gunners boss is serious about signing Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Granit Xhaka while youngster Gedion Zelalem will be given the chance to prove himself.
If, as expected, Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky, and Mathieu Flamini depart when their contracts expire in the summer, it would leave Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Xhaka, Zelalem and Wilshere all fighting for two places.
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That is bad news for Wilshere, who has yet to feature in a competitive game this season following another serious injury and a longer-than-expected rehabilitation. His recent appearance outside a swanky London nightclub has hardly helped matters either.
Wilshere's current contract expires in 2018 and Arsenal had been planning to hold talks over an extension in the summer. However, it has since been claimed that those plans have been shelved until he can prove he is committed to re-establishing himself.
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No spring chicken
At 24-years-old, Wilshere is certainly no spring chicken in the Arsenal ranks. Indeed, he is a year older than Elneny and Xhaka while Zelalem, 19, is showing the same kind of promise that Wilshere showed in his breakthrough campaign in 2010/11.
Zelalem's rise to prominence has been a long time coming, but the USA Under-23 international has impressed whilst on loan with Scottish side Glasgow Rangers and, like Alex Iwobi last summer, will get an opportunity to impress during pre-season.
Wenger has had chief scout Steve Rowley personally checking on the imposing Swiss midfielder Xhaka for some time and it seems the Frenchman is ready to pay the required £35million to sign him. That would be a significant chunk of his £75m transfer budget, which must also take into account the player's wages.
It means trouble for Wilshere, who will have to get to work if he is to keep his position in the Arsenal squad. While there is little question from Wenger over his ability, there are serious concerns from both fans and pundits that he lacks the required professionalism to make it.
Time running thin
Wilshere's 3am rendezvous with London police outside Cafe de Paris comes at a time when fans assumed he was focussed on making his comeback. In fact, even Wenger thought he was set for a significant end to the campaign, suggesting he had a chance to go to Euro 2016 with England.
But the grainy camera photos of Wilshere arguing with bouncers brought up memories of his past misdemeanours. His incredible talent has granted him a free pass up to this point but it seems Wenger is no longer willing to wait for the once prodigious youngster to finally grow up.
If Xhaka arrives and Zelalem impresses, Wilshere could find himself closer to the exit door than the starting XI by this time next season.
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