Jack Wilshere in danger of never reaching potential at Arsenal

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Jack Wilshere's ability has largely been disputed in recent years, as has his influence for club and country but could he still become world class or is he simply overhyped?

Wilshere's 56-minute run out during England's final Euro 2016 group match against Slovakia perfectly summarised the 24-year-old's career so far. Glimpses of brilliance marred by a lack of fitness and concentration.

The Arsenal man was a controversial selection for Roy Hodgson's 23-man squad for the European Championships after another injury hit season limited Wilshere to just three first team appearances.


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Wilshere's lack of match fitness was alarmingly obvious in England's frustrating 0-0 draw with the Slovakians. The midfielder looked off the pace, needlessly giving the ball away and making poor decisions in dangerous areas. He was lucky not to be hauled off at half time.

Fitness has always been a problem for Wilshere during his career and has resulted in him making only 26 appearances for his club in the last two seasons. Frustratingly, Wilshere's best career spells have come when he has enjoyed long spells in the team and has been able to gather momentum.

In the 2010-11 campaign, Wilshere won PFA Young Player of the Year, Arsenal's Player of the Year and was included in the PFA Team of the Year after making 49 appearances that campaign, the most he has managed in one season.

The Stevenage-born midfielder has always been a talented and highly thought of player by his club and country. Arsene Wenger, an excellent judge of young talent, gave Wilshere his Premier League debut aged 16 and he became a first team regular at 18-years-old

Wilshere represented England at every level and made his senior debut at 18, becoming the 10th youngest player to do so.

Many have argued Wilshere has failed to kick on from being just a promising talent and hasn't improved enough in the last five years, struggling to reach the world class potential he has long been tagged with.

Lack of fitness has been coupled with problems away from football. Smoking and partying has left people questioning Wilshere's desire. While his bad boy reputation, having been cautioned by the police in 2010 and 2011, has made Wilshere and unpopular figure.

When on the pitch, and at peak fitness, Wilshere is one of England's most talented midfielders. In the similar vein of Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne, Wilshere possesses technical ability uncharacteristic of most home-grown players.

Even during his cameos in an England shirt this summer, Wilshere has shown Three Lions' fans glimpses of his talent, boasting a mesmerising first touch and moments of intelligence on the ball.

When on the top of his game, Wilshere can win matches on his own. A perfect example of this was during England's Euro qualifier against Slovenia last year. Two stunning Wilshere strikes had every pundit singing his praises.

However, although his ability is unquestioned in England, those in Europe are not so convinced. Pep Guardiola is a famous critic of Wilshere and has scrutinised the number 10 while at Barcelona.

"Wilshere is a top player. He is an excellent player, but also for the national team. But he is lucky because we have many players in the second team like him but he plays because there is no pressure at his club to win titles."

This may be true, however the same could be said about Waddle, Gascoigne and Joe Cole. But their influence on the national team was massive and brought the best out of those around them.

Much like those England greats, Wilshere may benefit greatly from a spell abroad. Waddle won the Onze d'Or while with Marseille and Gascoigne was twice voted Players' Player of the Year at Lazio. Both came back to the UK better players, having enhanced their technical ability.

Wilshere's career has somewhat stagnated at Arsenal, where he has been for the last 15 years. Wenger cannot improve him much more. His development would likely skyrocket either abroad or under a coach who was renowned as a player himself.

Guardiola and Manchester City have long been linked with Wilshere and a move could materialise this summer. Despite criticising the young Englishman in the past, Guardiola would no doubt unlock his world class potential. Having played in a similar role himself under the great Johan Cruyff, Guardiola has nurtured the likes of Xavi, Iniesta, Thiago and Sergio Busquets.

Wilshere must take the plunge this summer and move to pastures new. Whether that be abroad or Guardiola's City, England's most talented midfielder needs to revive his faltering career.

Jack Wilshere
England Football
Premier League

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