Amid all the transfer speculation of ins and outs at Arsenal, one player has been conspicuous by his absence. It seemed that despite countless media rumours, Jack Wilshere was off limits, as if they knew there was no point reporting what could never come to pass.
In all their time at Manchester United, there were only a handful of swiftly-forgotten reports that either Ryan Giggs or Paul Scholes were on another club’s radar. And it seemed Wilshere was the same, giving the aura of a one-club man despite only just becoming that man.
At just 21, he is Arsenal’s present and their future. But now apparent interest from German champions Bayern Munich is threatening that future.
It is being reported that new coach Pep Guardiola is a big fan of the England international. But I’m a big fan of Frank Turner – it doesn’t mean he will ever play a gig at my house.
Appreciating someone’s football talent is one thing; securing their signature quite another. And yet the reports of Bayern’s interest have forced me to question my opinion of Wilshere. Will he be the one-club man he gives the impression of being? Or will his talent make that impossible?
Much rests on his current club. Should Arsenal build on this season’s solid foundations, add to rather than replace, and introduce players who can match Wilshere’s talent and desire, then he would have no reason to leave.
But should they continue to be the best of the rest, the midfielder may one day have a decision to make.
In the short term they must secure Champions League football next season. Although some may argue that a year outside the European elite will help rather than hinder the Gunners, allowing them to focus all their efforts on the league, the truth is Europe’s premier competition brings both money and the possibility of better signings.
It also appeases the players you already have.
And in the long term, the Gunners must challenge again…and ultimately win that challenge.
The fact that the current top three will all have new men in charge next season may give Wenger the advantage. While others take time to get their feet under the table, the carpet under Wenger’s table is tattooed with his footprints.
He must now give Wilshere the success his talent and ethos deserve. Maybe then those stories of a move will be as rare as they were for other one-club men.
Wilshere can achieve all he wants at the Emirates. He will achieve it elsewhere. It is time for the club to ensure that second sentence becomes an irrelevance.
Do you think Wilshere will be a one-club man? And how good can he ultimately be for the Gunners?
image: © Ronnie Macdonald