The career of Jack Wilshere is one that has so far been ravaged by injury. The Arsenal midfielder seems to have missed more football than he has played, and the time has come for him to step up and prove he is a top player.
The 24-year-old has been at Arsenal his whole career, but only once has played more than 25 league games in a single season, and has played a part in just 17 Premier League matches since the start of the 2014/15 season.
Wilshere’s career has consistently stalled and he has still to reach anything near his true potential, both for Arsenal and for England. After two difficult seasons in North London and a poor Euro 2016, which in hindsight he should never have been selected for, this could be a decisive season for him.
Arsene Wenger has almost an embarrassment of riches at his disposal in centre midfield at Arsenal. Alongside Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Mohammad Elneny and new signing Granit Xhaka will all be hoping to earn a spot in the centre of the Arsenal midfield.
Despite his undoubted talent, it may be very difficult for Wilshire to hold down a place in the starting XI. Given how rare it is that Wenger pays anything near £30 million for a player, you would expect Xhaka to be among the first names on the team sheet.
In recent years, Wenger has favoured the 4-2-3-1 system at Arsenal. One of the main problems for Wilshere has been working out where he fits into this system. He has had spells in both the holding role and the number ten role for club and country, but has never nailed down a position that suits him.
If he is to become a top player, he has to decide where he plays his best football. At 24, Wilshere should be approaching the prime of his career, not looking to hold down a place in the team. Rumours in the past have linked him with a move to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, and if he can’t stay in the team at the Emirates, he may have to make that sort of move.
If Wilshere can produce the performances that he is obviously capable of, he can certainly bring success to both Arsenal and England. Given that this year he is being given proper rest to get fully fit before he starts the new campaign, this is big season for him, and he must make the most of it.