Despite being described as the future of Arsenal by former captain Cesc Fabregas in 2011, the last six years have not gone quite to plan for Jack Wilshere.
A series of injuries and off the field issues over the last few years have seen Wilshere’s progress stall at the Emirates. Consequently, the Englishman has only made 161 appearances for Arsenal since his debut back in 2008.
His lack of first team football in recent years meant that he was sent on loan to Bournemouth last season to gain some valuable first team football, but his spell at the Cherries was lacklustre.
Wilshere scored no goals and made just two assists in 27 appearances, and his unremarkable loan was even ended prematurely, as he suffered yet another injury setback, this time a fractured leg.
Now though the 25-year-old has fully recovered and is available for selection to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. He has made three appearances so far this season in the Europa League and Carabao Cup and has looked quietly impressive in each of his outings. However, the Englishman has still been linked with a January exit, while the Times claim Wilshere is contemplating leaving in a bid to ensure a place in the England World Cup squad.
The burning question now must be, whether or not Arsenal should let him go? The Gunners’ form this season has wavered, but prior to defeat against Watford they had won six out of the previous seven.
Many fans, however, are still unhappy with certain areas of the Arsenal team, notably the centre midfield positions, where Tom Cleverley found so much space to roam in the 2-1 defeat at Vicarage Road.
As well as steel, Arsenal have missed the creativity of Santi Carzola. The Spanish midfielder is set to be out of action for Arsenal until 2018 and his absence over the past year has been missed.
With the 32-year-old, Arsenal have a win percentage of 65.5%, but without him just 38.9%. The stats show how important he is to Arsenal and how badly they need a creative, Carzola type player to replace him in their central midfield.
The likes of Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny have been occupying the central midfield roles during Carzola’s absence, but a winning percentage of 38.9% suggests that they are not adequate replacements for the Spaniard. But just maybe Jack Wilshere could be?
Wilshere has a somewhat similar playing style to that of Carzola, a player who likes to get on the ball and control the game through either his creative passing, his driving runs up the pitch, or scoring some goals himself.
Arsenal did not acquire a replacement for Carzola in the summer, and maybe that is a good thing. Perhaps it will force Wenger to give the Wilshere one more opportunity to get back in the first team and demonstrate all the drive and talent he showed when he first broke onto the scene as a teenager.
Wilshere, a player Arsene Wenger himself described as a Spanish talent, is in the similar mould to that of Spaniard Carzola and what’s clear is that Arsenal need a player like that in their central midfield.
Provided he stays fit and on the right track, logically Wilshere may be just the player Arsenal need to fill that role.