The news that Jack Wilshere has told Arsene Wenger that he wants to leave Arsenal on loan to gain more first-team football has led to concern among fans that the club’s prodigal son could become the latest in a long line of English players that have failed to cement a place as a regular during the Frenchman's reign.
Had Wilshere not suffered significantly from injuries over the last four years, there is every chance that he would be the first name on the team sheet and, perhaps, club captain instead of defender Per Mertesacker.
Instead, with Granit Xhaka added to Arsenal’s considerable options in midfielder, 24-year-old Wilshere looks set for a temporary move away from the Emirates.
The problem for Wilshere though is that he has come to the decision to leave with just two days remaining in the summer transfer window, leaving him with limited options. With Wenger reluctant to allow the midfielder to join a top four rival, his options are reduced even further, and a move abroad could be in the pipeline in a similar fashion to Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
So what are the most likely options for Wilshere, should he get his wish and leave Arsenal on loan before Wednesday’s transfer window deadline?
City have retained a long interest in Wilshere and were linked with a move for the central midfielder earlier in the summer, only for Wenger to insist he would not be willing to sell to a title rival. With Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane arriving this summer, City will not make a move for Wilshere this summer, although a move next summer – a permanent one – cannot be ruled out of the equation.
If Wenger is reluctant to allow Wilshere to join a rival for the top four in the Premier League, then Southampton could well prove a beneficial destination for him. Arsenal have a positive relationship with the Saints, having negotiated moves for Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers over the last decade, and the south coast would certainly provide the competitiveness that Wilshere needs. With Southampton currently winless in the Premier League, their midfield trio of Oriol Romeu, Steven Davis and Dusan Tadic will be freshened up by Wilshere’s arrival.
Former Southampton manager Ronald Koeman has so far proven to be a big success at Everton, having got the club off to their best start in 10 years, and while Everton could prove to be a possible destination for Wilshere, it’s difficult to see where he would settle in. Koeman currently deploys Gareth Barry as the holding midfielder alongside summer signing Idrissa Gueye, with Ross Barkley in an advanced role ahead of them. Wilshere would likely challenge Gueye for the box-to-box role, and with Mohamed Besic injured, Darren Gibson out of favour and James McCarthy heading for the exit, he would only rival Tom Cleverley as the other recognised midfielder withTom Davies still largely untested.
Boro are reported to have been the first team to enquire for Wilshere’s services as their summer recruitment drive continues at pace. Upon their return to the top flight, Middlesbrough have brought in seven new players – including the additions of former Manchester City striker Alvaro Negredo and ex-United and Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes – and have shown that their ambitions lie higher up the table than the relegation zone. Whether Wilshere would be willing to move to a recently promoted club remains to be seen, but at least they have been keen to show their interest with time quickly running out.
The Spanish side’s financial troubles have been well documented and a loan move for Wilshere could prove the perfect way to strengthen without having to splash out with big sums of money. Valencia have already lost both of their opening La Liga matches, with Dani Parejo, Mario Suarez and Enzo Perez failing to impress in a three-man midfield. The Spanish league would also represent a less physical approach for Wilshere to cope with, and given his extensive problems with fitness in the past, a move to Spain could offer him the best chance of completing an entire season.
Italian side Roma are also being linked with Wilshere, although they – like Southampton – do have a European campaign to cope with in the Europa League that may put a lot of strain on Wilshere should the club grow dependent on the midfielder. Roma’s midfield options are far more impressive than Valencia’s and regular game time is no guarantee for Wilshere, should he move to the Italian capital, with internationals Radja Nainggolan, Daniele De Rossi and Kevin Strootman currently filling the midfield trio. However, the club have not replaced the creativity of Miralem Pjanic in the midfield yet, and Wilshere could prove to be the answer to that problem.
Could Wilshere leave the English runners-up to join the Italian league champions? It’s not unlikely, according to some UK bookmakers who put Juventus as favourites to sign for the Italian side. With Paul Pogba leaving the Serie A champions, Juventus are one midfielder short despite signing Pjanic earlier in the summer and could make a significant financial gain by replacing the £89m world record signing with a quality loan addition. Wilshere would certainly learn a great deal with Juventus that would stand him in good stead for the future should a move prove successful, but so far they are yet to express any fresh interest despite attempting to sign him in 2014.
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