Jack Wilshere was just 17 in 2010/11 when appeared no less than 49 times for Arsenal across the season.
He had already been integrated into the first team setup by the time he 16, developing in the shadow of former Captain Cesc Fabregas.
The Spaniard had also been 16 when he broke into the Gunners’ side after arriving from Barcelona in his homeland. In his eight years in North London, Fabregas set the Premier League alight with his passing, his passion and his creativity and became the talisman, the leader and the skipper prior to his return to Catalonia at the end of 2011.
Wilshere, meanwhile, suffered an injury as Fabregas made his exit that saw the England youngster sidelined for 17 months and, to compound the cull of creativity in those two events, Samir Nasri was sold to Manchester City.
The Frenchman had, in some ways, outshone Fabregas and Wilshere that season – he scored 15 goals in all competitions, added assists and was probably the most technically inspired and exciting attacker in England at that time.
Wilshere had been sculpted in Fabregas’ image by coach Arsene Wenger – that has been noted by both the player and the manager as well as being demonstrated in his style or play.
But is the 22-year-old starting to evolve into an attacking midfielder with the ability to go past people and, crucially, score goals?
Wilshere has been deployed predominantly as a central midfielder, as a playmaker and a pass-picker pulling strings in the middle of the park but recently the abundance of midfield options has seen him moved wide and get forward on a more regular basis and for the first time since his injury lay-off we’re seeing him trust his ability to go pasty people.
Like Fabregas, Wilshere isn’t the fastest – he is never going to win a footrace with Theo Walcott – but his technical ability and his developed physical strength in his upper body now means he can take defenders on and, crucially, at present he seems to have the confidence to pull it off.
His finishing and willingness to make driving runs into the box has improved and increased rapidly and his goals have been reminiscent of a young Samir Nasri, even if the Frenchman's antics don't make for a pleasant comparison.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald