A product of the Arsenal academy, Wilshere, 26, made his senior debut for the club back in 2008; he made a total of 197 first-team appearances for the Gunners. Despite agreeing to sign a financially reduced contract, Wilshere was told by new manager Unai Emery that he won’t be a guaranteed starter next season.
So, after 17 long years, Wilshere’s Arsenal career is over and he will be off to pastures new. It has been the longest of goodbyes. In fact, it was coming after he injured his ankle four years ago and never really returned to his best until last season. But the train had already left the platform just like Emery had made his decision of keeping the midfielder but not assuring him regular game time next season.
As mentioned earlier, Wilshere made a number of comebacks, a loan spell at Bournemouth, England recalls and snubs—the latest came when he was not picked by manager Gareth Southgate for his World Cup squad.
The 26-year-old, who was once considered one of the most exciting midfield talents in England, seldom inspired confidence while playing for the Gunners for the past few seasons; he did enjoy a decent 2017/18 campaign.
There has been no shortage of determination and passion shown by Wilshere while battling from his recurrent injuries and working his way back to the team. His pride in wearing the Arsenal jersey every time cannot be questioned either. But for a player of Spanish quality with English heart, Wilshere’s career at the Emirates was simply stagnated.
It’s not like Wilshere was not given any chances to make a comeback from the gruelling series of injuries. Arsene Wenger persisted with the 26-year-old, keeping faith in the midfielder to regain his lost mojo.
Despite showing tenacity, technical ability and burning desire to succeed, Wilshere simply failed to take his game to the next level. Gradually, the midfielder had to pay the price for the injuries he suffered and the persistent knocks he took.
Wilshere’s noticeable diminishing prowess in midfield was enough for Emery to make the call, which indeed was a tough one to take and that could even turn the supporters against him before his team even kicks a ball in the 2018/19 campaign. But the Spaniard, after replacing Wenger, has a tough job in his hands where emotions and feelings need to take a backseat.
Emery’s decision to end Wilshere’s Arsenal career isn’t baffling at all. The Spaniard wants to build a team worthy of challenging for silverware and become a dominant force in Europe again. Emery’s ambitions at Arsenal are bluntly clear and within them lie no place for Wilshere and emotions.
It is time to be pragmatic for Arsenal fans as Emery embraces his new job and taking the first bold step of offloading Wilshere. Emery’s decision deserves applause and not criticism from the Arsenal fanbase.
And as for Wilshere, he is still 26 and has still plenty of time to revive his career elsewhere. His dream of becoming an Arsenal legend will remain unfulfilled but the bond he built with the fans will remain forever.