Roy Keane hit out recently at Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere. The former Manchester United captain labelled the Gunners 26-year-old as the ”most overrated player in the World.”
Although Keane has a reputation as being one of the grumpiest men in football, who is ideal for a dose of scathing criticism that makes perfect sensationalist headlines, if you dig a little deeper into his latest outburst he may really have a valid point.
Wilshere has long been heralded as one of England’s great midfield talents. In fact, it is now nine seasons since he made his debut as a 17-year-old in 2008.
Word of the talented youngster’s talent had even proceeded his first-team debut, and the hype surrounding him reached fever pitch in 2011 after he put in a majestic performance in the Champions League against a Barcelona midfield containing Xaxi, Iniesta and Busquests.
Wilshere has of course suffered some wretched luck with injuries over the years, but when you analyse his playing record since then, the cold hard truth is he has never really kicked on and fulfilled that undoubted early potential.
The England international’s most productive season ever for Arsenal came in 2013/2014 when he scored three goals and provided four assists. These are certainly not the type of numbers you would expect from a top class attacking or even box-to-box midfielder, in fact they are more in line with what you would expect from a modern day full-back.
So this also begs the question as to what type of player Wilshere is ? He is undoubtedly technically gifted, a good passer of the ball, and is excellent at drawing opposition players in and playing one two’s with team-mates.
However, if it’s obvious that he just doesn’t produce the type of goal and assist numbers required of an attacking midfielder, and yet also does not possess the athleticism and physical durability to thrive as deep lying midfielder, then what real use is Wilshere to a team?
So often Arsenal are criticised for having too many luxury players, but Wilshere seems to get a free ride from fan’s and critics. Although, in many ways he is one of the biggest culprits, at least players like Ozil actually post tangible goal and assist figures each season.
During his loan season at Bournemouth the 26-year-old again failed to look anything more than neat and tidy amongst a team of average players. In all honesty you would expect a player billed as one of the best creative players the English game has to offer, to stick out a mile playing with a mid to lower level Premier League team.
Wilshere’s contract at The Emirates runs out at the end of the season, and rumour has it he has been offered a new deal, although the terms are said to be less than his current contract.
Therefore, the much hyped midfielder has a serious decision on his hands, does he stay at his boyhood club, who will probably be under new management next season, or does he branch out and try and fulfil his undoubted potential elsewhere.
If Wilshere does decide to leave he will surely have no shortage of suitors, due to his reputation. However, exactly what type of player other club’s will be getting remains a mystery, even after nine full seasons as a professional.