LONDON, United Kingdom, Sep 9 – Arsene Wenger has insisted that “world-class” Jack Wilshere has a future with Arsenal despite agreeing to the England midfielder’s season-long loan move to Premier League rivals Bournemouth.
The 24-year-old Wilshere had been plagued by ankle problems during recent seasons and his last full game for Arsenal was nearly two years ago — a 2-1 League Cup defeat by Southampton on September 23, 2014.
Despite that, he was still included in England’s squad for this year’s European Championships in France where Roy Hodgson’s men suffered a humiliating exit at the hands of Iceland.
Wilshere made two substitute appearances for Arsenal this season and was dropped from Sam Allardyce’s first squad as England manager.
That led Wilshere and Arsenal manager Wenger to hold a meeting at which it was decided the best thing for his immediate career development was a loan move, with south coast side Bournemouth the club to seal the deal.
Wenger, asked Friday if Wilshere’s Arsenal career was in jeopardy, replied: “No, not at all, no. He wanted games and I can understand his desire.
“I felt it was a logical decision. Let’s not forget that last year he didn’t play. He’s in a position where you need games. You can’t not compete for two seasons and then want to be at the top level.
“It’s important for him that he gets the number of games this season,” the Frenchman, in charge of north London club Arsenal since 1996, added.
“I think Jack Wilshere is a world-class player. He has a great footballing brain, and understands everything that is going on on the football pitch. He is most dangerous when you give him the ball in the final third.
“We had a chat together and he himself was concerned that he would not get enough competition early enough, because he feels ready to play.
“I couldn’t guarantee that, so that’s why (we took) the decision. I think it looks logical to give him time to really come back to a competitive level. At some stage you need competition and I couldn’t guarantee him that.”
– ‘Competitive level’ –
Wilshere is set to play in his favoured advanced role at Bournemouth, for whom he could make his debut against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, and Wenger said: “For me, it was always a shame when he played too deep and too close to the goal because I like him where he can create.
The thinking behind the [move] was that he would get regular football and come back to what he is — a world-class football player,” the Frenchman added.
“He’s a world-class player and he doesn’t have to show me that he has the quality to play at Bournemouth, just that he comes back to a regular competitive level.”
Arsenal are at home to another south coast club in Southampton on Saturday, with Wenger considering whether to hand debuts to two recent signings in defender Shkodran Mustafi and forward Lucas Perez
“I haven’t decided yet,” he said when asked if the pair would feature against the Saints in a match where Arsenal will seek a second league victory of the season after taking four points from their first three games.
“That’s a decision I have to make, and I have to see how everyone comes back and who I will start tomorrow.
“They bring us qualities. Mustafi is a young centre back and already has international experience. Lucas Perez is an interesting striker who is versatile, can play on the flank and especially though the middle.
“He can score goals and can also provide a good number of assists. With the way I like to play, that’s an interesting quality.”