Of all the players you’d want to build a team around, I’m not sure you’d have Jack Wilshere at, near the top, or in the top ten of that list. He’s not an awful player - as usual when we write critiques like this, it’s important to note that Jack Wilshere is better at soccer than any of us have ever been or will ever be - but he’s also the guy who has never really lived up to the gigantic promise we all thought he held a few seasons ago.
With a new regime coming in, and with Wilshere’s contract coming to an end this summer, it was reasonable to expect that maybe his demands for a fat new contract wouldn’t be met, and that a new manager would say “hey Jack, guess what? Here’s a new offer, and if you don’t like it, there’s the door”. But, in probably one last display of Arsene Wenger’s famous loyalty to his players, Arsenal sent Jack’s agent an offer that was “improved” over their initial, incentive-laden deal and offered more guaranteed cash, an offer that Wilshere, who for all his footballing shortcomings is not stupid, seems on the verge of accepting.
I was all for the low-wage, incentive-heavy contract; I don’t despise Jack, I just think he’s not as good as he could be, and I believe incentives can be a good way of teasing quality out of a player. But now, with Jack, we’ll never know, because he’s gonna sign a fat new contract and just keep cruising along, doing what he does, which is, uh, occasionally supplying a nice pass, and probably some other stuff too I can’t really remember.
To be clear: I don’t fault Jack for taking this deal. He needs to maximize his income - his earning window, like that of all athletes, is brief. I am very curious, however, as to the timing of this offer, considering the massive change that’s about to happen at the club. It’s not like Jack is some indelible club talisman, without whom the identity of the club will be permanently altered - that guy’s leaving Sunday. And it’s not like he is playing so well that a new manager will want to have him in the side no matter what. Jack is what he is at this point, and what he is is useful squad depth - but now he’s getting paid like a starter, so, welcome to Arsenal, new manager!