Having looked at the Sanchez/Ozil dilemma, the other conundrum facing Arsenal this January is what to do with Jack Wilshere?
Keep Him: Definitely the most romantic strategy would be a new contract. On his day, Jack is a top class player with a unique acceleration that drives us Forward to great effect. Such ability is rarely found in a central midfielder especially when combined with a quality passing range, excellent technique, composure on the ball and an admirable toughness. These ingredients on the face of it make the decision feel like a no brainer.
Sell him: On the flip side, we all know about Jack’s injury record. Can Arsenal realistically continue to pay high wages on a constant health risk? Can we justify one of our senior midfield spots on a player with potential limited availability? The other consideration is if it’s any longer in Jack’s best interests to prolong his stay. Clearly he needs to play regularly from now until May if he is to ever find his level and make a surge towards England’s World Cup squad.
Loan him: We could repeat the AFC Bournemouth exercise by loaning him for the rest of the season to again test if he can find the consistent fitness and form that is a mandatory for a Club like Arsenal. The risk of Jack signing for a foreign club from the 1st of January feels minimal given his loyalty to the club.
Clearly this is not straightforward but the answer must equate to the quality of the player. Let’s remember this isn’t another ten a penny ball winning midfielder, we are talking about a special talent. Apart from Santi Cazorla and Moussa Dembele, it is rare to see a player that combines such high class technique and remarkable ball carrying ability with the aggression required for handling English football. Based on this a two year contract must be worth a gamble.
Whether at Arsenal or on loan, it is imperative Jack plays for a sustained period in his best position which is from deep midfield with a licence to drive forward. Playing as an inside forward (as he has recently) Jack is a decent footballer. But playing as a deep midfielder with the opportunity to showcase his unique close control and energetic forward drive makes him a potential world class superstar.
So there it is, the gamble is worth it. Both in Arsenals and Jack best interests bearing in mind we also play the type of football that suits his footballing attributes. As a thought, when Ozil and Sanchez inevitably depart the club perhaps we need to consider a switch to 4-3-3 or 3-5-2 placing Ramsey and Wilshere (anchored by a defensive midfielder) at the heart of Arsenal Football Club for years to come.