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Why Jack Wilshere can still reach potential - but not at Arsenal (nor abroad)

COMMENT: The door's been shut at Dean Court. And it's closing at Arsenal. But Jack Wilshere can still take heart - it ain't over yet.

The reputation is still there. And it exists across Europe. He may be in traction, a leg fracture the latest of a never-ending series of setbacks, but that hasn't put off suitors.

Wilshere may not make the season kickoff. It'll take him another month to get match fit. Yet, the Turks from Antalyaspor have made contact. Sampdoria have tabled an €7.5m offer. And there's enquiries from West Ham, Swansea City and Newcastle United.

Okay, okay, it isn't like a year ago with AC Milan and Roma, but Wilshere still has options. Even with a preseason wiped out and no guarantee of a full campaign ahead, clubs are still prepared to throw millions at signing the 25 year-old.

Yeah, 25. A career still building. Still to be established. Jack just needs a break... whoops, sorry... a bit of luck to get past all these bloody injuries.

"We identified Jack Wilshere," declared Roma powerbroker Mauro Baldissoni a year ago, "we believed he would be good for us. But he chose to remain in England."

Geez, a year's a long time in football. Remember deadline day last year? It wasn't just Roma who were in for Jack, Milan were convinced they had him. But in the end, he was persuaded to move north by Eddie Howe, the Bournemouth manager.

Now it's Howe who needed persuading. But the decision was made well before Wilshere broke down against Spurs. The roles had reversed. It was no longer Bournemouth who needed Jack, but vice-versa.

At Arsenal, assurances from Arsene Wenger of New Year contract talks came to nothing. Wilshere is now about to enter the final 11 months of his present deal - and with no hint from Arsenal of a willingness to extend the relationship. If the writing was on the wall in January, it's now screaming in bright red paint: this Arsenal career is over.

So what next? Well, at 25, he and Dad Andrew shouldn't be panicking. It's a crossroads, sure, but there is a career still to be built. A footballer at 25 is very different to one at 27 or 28. He can still achieve everything that was predicted for Jack when running onto the Ewood Park pitch nine years ago. It just won't be at Arsenal.

And it shouldn't be abroad. Yes, there'll be some inside English football who will encourage Wilshere to chance his arm and try a new environment. But Turkey, even Italy, are destinations for an established English footballer. Not one of 25. Wilshere still has time to experience such competitions later in his career.

Where Roma and Milan have looked elsewhere this summer, Samp are serious. Massimo Ferrero, their charismatic, outspoken president, really does fancy bringing Wilshere to Italy. No matter the injury record, Ferrero has already made two offers - one of €6m, then just recently €7.5m. A Genoa source has told Tribalfootball.com Ferrero "will go another €1m" to convince Arsenal to sell. With Bruno Fernandes having been sold back to Sporting CP, there's a gaping hole in the trequartista position to be filled. Ferrero is banking on such a promise to convince Wilshere to make the move - some 14 years since the days of Des Walker and David Platt wore the Blucerchiati.

But Italy will always be an option for Wilshere. Inside the local game, they love him - as they have done since he was making a name for himself at 15 years of age. It was around that time that two agents connected to Juventus reached out to Tribalfootball.com about us putting them in touch with Wilshere's family. Knowing he had no formal representation, they were convinced he could be ferried to Juve at 16 years of age. A few weeks later, Wilshere was making his first team debut at Blackburn Rovers and his commitment to Arsenal assured.

Back then, some nine years ago, Wilshere could've been anything and everything. To Arsenal. To English football.

That potential is still there. Indeed, it's stronger. We know he has it in him. He's proven it. Just think of Pep Guardiola's Barcelona at the Nou Camp. That hasn't just disappeared.

He just needs some luck and a manager who is willing to be patient with him. West Ham would be convenient. But Swansea and Paul Clement - sansGylfi Sigurdsson - are ideal.

Take a step back to make that leap forward, Jack. Just don't roll your ankle doing it!


Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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