Jack Wilshere had never played for any other club than Arsenal from an early age, and despite his early promise, injuries stunted his growth and development and stopped him getting much game time even when he felt fit enough to play.
Jack got injured again at the beginning of last season, and he saw Francis Coquelin and Santi Cazorla cement their places in central midfield with Aaron Ramsey vying for a place, then Mohamed Elneny arrived last January, and this summer Wenger brought in the classy Granit Xhaka as even more competition, leaving Jack wondering how many games he would actually play even if he was fit all season. He has now admitted that he finally told Arsene Wenger that he wanted to leave the club to be guaranteed a starting place.
“There were a lot of midfielders and the manager brought another one in,” Wilshere said in the Mail. “I’d been injured for a while, and I was thinking I was at a stage of my career where I needed to play. I’m 24 and I’ve already missed too much football, and if I want to get to where I want to be it’d be no good coming off the bench in every game.’
When he was left out of the England squad, it finally hit him that he would have to leave Arsenal to get his career back on track, and he decided that he had to tell the Boss. “I actually sent him a text to begin with,” he continued. “I said I wanted to come in and speak to him. He said he wasn’t around for a few days with it being international week. But he told me to call him and I did.
“We spoke a couple of times that day. It was the Monday and the transfer window was closing on the Wednesday so we didn’t have long to sort something out. But I’d decided that I couldn’t have a season where I’m not starting. I spoke to the boss and he said, “You will play”. But I wanted more than that. I want to play week in, week out, be an important player for the team.
“I’m at my best when I’m playing regularly, when people are relying on me and I’m an important member of the team. I said to the boss, “You know what kind of player I am, what type of character I am, I need to play, it would be best if I leave”.’
Jack was quickly courted by Crystal Palace and Bournemouth, and after meeting Eddie Howe he decided a move to the South Coast would be the better option, to get away from London completely. Having now been with the Cherries for two months, he can now see a possible future away from Arsenal, the club he has been with since he was nine years old.
“I haven’t really thought about my future beyond getting a season under my belt and just trying to improve as a player,’ he says.
“To be honest your question is a hard question to answer because I don’t know what to say. I genuinely don’t know if I am going to end up at Arsenal or somewhere else.
“If you’d ask me two months ago if I was going to finish my career at Arsenal then I would have said, “Yeah, of course”.
“The fans have been great to me, the boss has been great to me. I have a lot of friends there. But sometimes that’s the way football is. Two months ago I wouldn’t have seen myself being here, but here I am. And I’m enjoying it.”
Obviously there is still a long way to go this season, and he will have to maintain his form and fitness, but I think there is now a big question mark over whether he will ever return to Arsenal….