Arsène Wenger is so confident in Jack Wilshere’s ability to handle pressure that he believes his young midfielder can be as big a figure as Bobby Moore, Zinedine Zidane or Michel Platini.
The Arsenal manager was discussing what, through history, makes national teams successful, and he identified the crucial presence of a player brave and talented enough to take a whole nation’s pressure and expectations on his shoulders. “National teams need a guy who absorbs this type of pressure and takes it,” Wenger explained. “We had Zidane. When the France team played well it was all Zidane, but the others could play.
“Before, we had Platini. In the history of the French national team, the results stop when Platini stops. And they stopped when Zidane stopped. You need a good generation but you also need one player.”
When asked whether Wilshere could follow England’s Bobby Moore in such a role, Wenger agreed. “Jack can take that, he is young, only 22. He has the characteristics to do that. But he needs to play six months without any problem.”
It is very high praise, comparing Wilshere to some of the all-time greats, but Wenger continued to give it, saying he had a mentality like Zidane’s, who won a World Cup, European Championship, Champions League and Ballon d’Or between 1998 and 2002. “He is not fazed by the importance of the game,” said Wenger, when asked for similarities between the two. “He is not inhibited. Jack has the personality to be a top, top, top player.”
The arrival of Mesut Ozil, Wenger believes, will be good for Wilshere. The two will not clash with the England man set to play in deeper positions. “We all benefit from being with top-level people in our job,” Wenger said.