Jack Wilshere's showing promise at Bournemouth as Arsenal prepare new contract offer
Midfielder is using this season to rebuild a career that threatened to go off the rails18:09 Friday 25 November 2016, 18:09 25 Nov 2016
Given the clubs involved on Sunday, Jack Wilshere was always going to be in the news heading into this weekend.
His boyhood club Arsenal welcome the side where he is now on loan, Bournemouth, in a Premier League clash and in the build-up, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says the club plans to offer the England international a fresh contract in the New Year.
The 24-year-old midfielder's currently in the first few months of a career rebuild at Bournemouth but of course, given the nature of loan deals, Wilshere won't be able to feature in that match.
Wenger says he hasn't spoken to the player since he left for Bournemouth at the end of the summer transfer deadline.
"I leave him to deal with his manager [Eddie Howe] and every week I ask 'how did he play?' and I read the reports. And when I can see highlights on television or watch him on television, I watch him," says the Frenchman.
It's particularly relevant as the official line has been that this season is one in which Wilshere resurrects an injury-ravaged career and then returns revitalised at Arsenal for the 2017-18 campaign.
AFC Bournemouth's Simon Francis and AFC Bournemouth's Jack Wilshere after the final whistle during the Premier League match at the Bet365 Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent. Picture by Nigel French PA Wire/PA Images
Part of that plan would require the player to show the form required to shine back in the brighter lights at the Emirates.
As an academy graduate and Arsenal boy in the way that Harry Kane would be at North London derby rivals Tottenham, there is a reason why the Gunners would be keen to keep him around so long as the vast potential he showed in his debut season when he shone in a Champions League clash against Barcelona can still be unlocked.
Wilshere certainly has made an impact at Bournemouth. Having created 18 chances, he is their leading chance creator already this season, despite missing the first three games of the season.
What has been missing is an assist though but given the quality of the passing in the last few matches, that will only be a matter of time.
From Bournemouth's chances against Stoke, he was very much at the heart of their best work.
Meanwhile, goals have also not been a part of Wilshere's game at senior level, although he came close to his first of the season only to see a shot shave the outside of the post against Stoke.
Indeed, he has the dubious record of most shots against the woodwork in the Premier League this season which is a sign he's getting closer.
More encouragingly, his fitness is holding up, with four full league games under his belt and nine appearances in total.
But what awaits him back at Arsenal?
Midfield is still well stocked at the Emirates with Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla, Mohamed Elneny and Granit Xhaka battling for the different attacking and deeper midfield playmaker roles.
That is seriously tough competition, although the hugely impressive Cazorla (who is 31 and has a contract running out next June) is the one who really makes the Gunners tick from deep has unfortunately faced injury issues that resulted in him missing much of the second half of last season and most recent weeks.
Like Cazorla, who it would be wise to tie down to a new deal even amid injury problems, Ozil's long-term future has yet to be definitevely tied down beyond 2018 though.
But that is why a storming season at Bournemouth for Wilshere could be helpful as it will raise his stock depending on the outcome of negotiations elsewhere.
A new contract offer at least shows that Wenger sees a role for him long-term.
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