Jack Wilshere played just 17 Premier League games for Arsenal during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons, due to a series of long-term injuries, a stretch which just about made the 24-year-old midfielder fall out of love with the game, as he revealed on Tuesday.
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Speaking ahead of England’s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Scotland on Friday, Wilshere revealed his motivation behind accepting a season-long loan move to Bournemouth, and it’s deeper than a desire for first-team minutes — quotes from the BBC:
“I missed the fight of the Premier League, being in big games and making a difference for a team. I wanted to feel that again and almost fall back in love with the game.”
“At the moment I am just trying to have a season where it puts me in a good position at the end of the year, that I have improved as a player and Arsenal want me back.
“I could have stayed at Arsenal, been the player that comes on now and then off the bench, starts in the odd cup game, but I wanted more than that. I’ve been injured for too long and I want to prove to people [my ability].”
Wilshere has appeared in more than 25 PL games just once in his still-young career (2010-11, when he appeared in 35 of 38 league games), making the current campaign a particularly pivotal one in determining the trajectory of his career as a whole.
If he’s unable to stay healthy while at Bournemouth, what reason would Arsenal have to bring him back into the fold this summer, and what confidence to figure him into their plans for 2017-18 and beyond? Supremely talented when healthy — rare as it’s been — someone will always take a chance on a player of his caliber, if he’s willing to accept he’s fallen closer to Bournemouth’s level, rather than Arsenal’s.