Jack Wilshere has told talkSPORT that former Aston Villa boss Steve Bruce tried to sign the midfielder from Arsenal for the Birmingham outfit in the summer 2017 transfer window.
Villa had finished the previous season 13th in the Championship standings in Bruce’s debut campaign at the helm. The current Newcastle United coach replaced Roberto Di Matteo in charge of the Villans early into the campaign as they sought an immediate top-flight return.
Bruce seemingly viewed Wilshere as a piece of the puzzle that could fire Aston Villa back into the Premier League. The Englishman had returned to the Emirates Stadium to face an uncertain future after a season-long loan spell with Bournemouth.
Wilshere had featured regularly during the two-time FA Cup winner with Arsenal’s time on the south coast. But rather than join Bruce at Villa to secure regular minutes again, stayed in north London to fight for chances.
Bruce left a big impression on Wilshere during his attempts to convince the 29-year-old to join Aston Villa in 2017. With the now free-agent still praising the manager’s credentials.
“I’ve never worked with him, [but] I’ve played with players who have played for him and have nothing but good things to say about him,” Wilshere said. “I actually spoke to him once one summer when he was at Villa, he wanted to take me there.
“It was when I came back from Bournemouth, and I wasn’t in the Arsenal team, and he wanted to take me there. He was brilliant. It was a ten-minute phone call, and I came off the phone thinking: ‘wow, this guy knows football’. He’s a football man.”
Was Wilshere transfer near miss a blessing for Aston Villa?
Aston Villa improved, even without Wilshere, under Bruce in 2017/18 to finish the season fourth in the Championship standings. But they would lose at Wembley in the play-off final, as Fulham compounded them to another year of second-tier football.
Wilshere, meanwhile, spent his final year at Arsenal making 38 appearances, starting 29, in all competitions. But only 12 starts and 20 outings came in the Premier League, before the Gunners released their academy product.
He then joined West Ham United, but his spell in claret-and-blue ended early when they terminated his contract last year. Per ESPN, the Hammers mutually tore up the final 12-months of a £100k-a-week deal after deeming him surplus to requirements.
Wilshere’s career has not recovered since, with a six-month return to Bournemouth this January ending with release. Meanwhile, Aston Villa secured promotion as play-off winners under Dean Smith in 2018/19 and ended last season 11th in the top-flight table.