The Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup warned tonight that Jack Wilshere would have to play at the top for “a few seasons” before he could truly be regarded as one of the world’s great players, after the 21-year-old’s match-winning performance in the FA Cup third round replay.
It was Wilshere who scored the tie's only goal four minutes from time, prompting Arsène Wenger to describe him as "the complete midfielder" and suggest that the Englishman's best role could be as a No 10 – the position he played tonight.
Laudrup said that Wilshere would flourish without so much pressure on his shoulders. "There's always pressure on players at this level. To be a world-class player you need a few seasons at the top level. Forty or 50 games is not enough. Maybe he can become it, but if we put a 21-year-old up there already, where do we put Lionel Messi?"
He added: "I think he has a lot of potential but I don't think we should push young players too much. People are too fast with the big words. We have to let them grow. Don't put that pressure on him to be a superstar."
Wenger described Wilshere's performance as "outstanding". He said: "I think he is a complete midfielder. He can defend and attack. He is a guy who can dribble and give a final ball so the closer he is to the goal the better it is from there.
"Yes, he has quality and enthusiasm and a love for the game. That is the most important for me."
The Arsenal manager said that the club hoped to tie up a new contract with Theo Walcott "very soon".
He added: "For us it was more at stake than just the FA Cup, it was to win straight away having lost such a big game like Sunday [against Manchester City]. It was important to win straight away. It was as well important to make sure we can win more than one competition. It is one of the reasons I played a stronger side than I have in previous years in the FA Cup."