Why does no Premier League side want Jack Wilshere?

Date published: Friday 21st July 2017 8:05 - Matthew Stead

When Michu announced his retirement earlier this week, the reaction was universal. After reminiscing over the greatest example of one-season wondrousness in modern history, the football world mourned the fact that they would no longer be able to measure every transfer fee against the £2million Swansea paid for the Spaniard in 2012.

Fortunately, he was able to bestow that mantle upon Jack Cork before his untimely professional demise. Manchester United therefore signed Paul Pogba for 8.93 Corks, not 44.65 Michus, while Paris Saint-Germain could have used their potential Neymar transfer money to sign 19.5 versions of Burnley’s new midfielder instead; there was a time when they could have had almost a century of Michus.

The former Swansea striker’s fee was regularly used as a benchmark against which every other valuation would be judged. It was the simplest way to decide whether a transfer was successful. Cork’s price does the same, but inversely: his £10m, Kyle Walker’s £50m, Nemanja Matic’s £40m – they are the inflated fees. Michu’s was the bargain.

That Arsenal are reported to value Jack Wilshere at around 0.6 of a Cork, a player who boasts a fraction of his ability but an abundance of his durability, tells its own story; the predictable sequel is that no Premier League club has shown serious interest in the former.

The difference in terms of experience is negligible – Cork has played 159 Premier League games to Wilshere’s 146 – but their reputations could not be more antithetical. The former is the reliable hand who can be trusted to perform at a consistent, but never excellent, level. The latter is capable of moments of brilliance, but they are cameos between time spent on the treatment table and regaining match fitness. One is a generic English midfielder, the other is regarded as one of the finest talents of his generation.

Yet Burnley are happy to spend £10m on 28-year-old Cork, while Wilshere, three years his junior, is struggling to find a suitor. Sampdoria head a queue of one, but the English disinterest is summed up in the final line of a story from the Daily Mirror: ‘West Ham and Manchester City have both been keen in the past.’

“We are interested in all good players but we have to face the facts here – we have got good midfielders,” West Ham co-owner David Gold said in June, closing another potential exit door for a player whose stock seems lower than ever.

As the supposed ‘British tax’ reaches ever-surprising levels in this transfer window, Sampdoria’s bid of £6m would make Wilshere the rarest of bargains. A 25-year-old English midfielder with Premier League and Champions League experience being valued at less than Kevin Stewart seems bizarre.

But then Wilshere is no longer an unknown quantity to any degree. There was genuine intrigue and interest around his loan move to Bournemouth last season, as the world would discover how well this particular fish fared outside of Arsenal’s waters. It ended in the most predictable fashion: injury.

Even beforehand, the midfielder was unable to truly impose himself under Eddie Howe. In a system tailor-made for his style, Wilshere faded into the crowd instead of standing out. He has now become something of a luxury player, and as with any luxury item, the word ‘fragile’ is taped across its back.

There should be a raft of clubs hoping to lure a player of such supreme ability at a price of just three Michus. But just as the Spaniard had to call time on his career due to injury this week, Wilshere’s fragility has made him damaged goods, even at 0.6 of a Cork.


Matt Stead

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