Social media had a mini blow-up during the week with pictures of Jack Wilshere smoking a cigarette surfacing all over the internet. There was also a snap of him and Joe Hart locked in some sort of mouth-to-mouth embrace. It’s not certain which did more damage to the Arsenal man’s lungs. It is certain that one Arsene Wenger will be fuming at the latest episode of unruly behaviour from a player he once believed he could build his Arsenal side around.
This is not Wilshere’s first time being caught lighting up as he was also photographed smoking outside a London nightclub last October. This first episode was a lot more unflattering as it came while the league season was in full flow, and the England squad member quickly came out to apologise for his misdemeanour.
It remains to be seen how he will deal with this particular episode. There is no doubt these sorts of incidents are blown out of proportion by the media, especially the tabloids, and it cannot be easy living under the microscope as a professional footballer. Having said this, Wilshere has done himself absolutely no favours before the beginning of what could be a defining season for the 22-year-old.
One of the more persistent transfer rumours in the last few weeks has been that of Sami Khedira moving to the Gunners, and this particular rumour has only strengthened after his compatriot Toni Kroos confirmed he will be moving to Real Madrid.
After missing three quarters of last season with a knee injury and with only one year left on his contract, the Galacticos may be tempted to cash in on Khedira. Add Kroos to the wealth of midfield options Madrid had in a Champions League winning campaign and it would be no surprise to see the World Cup winner departing the Bernabeu.
Marca are reporting that Arsenal could be set to end their chase for the former Stuttgart man due to wage demands that would see him become the highest paid player at the Emirates. Only time will tell whether this is fact or fiction.
Even if Khedira does not end up in North London, Arsenal’s pursuit of the German is a damning indictment of Wilshere and his progress as a footballer. The argument about Wilshere’s progression, or lack thereof, was sensationally made by Paul Scholes a few months ago and his sentiments may be ringing true for Arsene Wenger.
To be fair to Wenger, it makes sense to sign another central midfield player with Wilshere’s injury record over the past couple of seasons and the possible departure of Mikel Arteta after a disappointing season. However, the pursuit of a big-name player like Khedira means only one thing for Wilshere.
Lars Bender is another quality midfielder who has been linked to Arsenal, and one that would almost definitely command a starting spot in Wenger’s two-man midfield should he be signed. Either of these players have the ability to form a devastating partnership with the masterful Aaron Ramsey in the Gunners’ engine room.
This is not a situation that bodes well for a player who has also fallen down the pecking order for the national team. Granted, he only just recovered from an injury in time for the World Cup finals but it seems guaranteed that the previously much-maligned Jordan Henderson would have started for the Three Lions nonetheless.
Should Arsenal make a superior midfield signing this summer, Wilshere will find himself warming the bench for both club and country. Being at best third-choice in midfield for a player with his qualities, even at one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs, portrays a disturbing scene for the Englishman.
His best hope is that no new signings arrive this summer to compete for his position. If this happens and Wilshere can stay injury free for the season, he may be able to restore Wenger’s waning faith in his ability to be a core member of an Arsenal team that hopes to reach the promised land of Premier League glory.
Colm Hayes, Pundit Arena.