Jack Wilshere has confirmed that he will be leaving Arsenal at the end of June when his contract expires, and the question everyone will be asking themselves is: where will he go next?
For those unaware of the situation, Wilshere wanted to stay at Arsenal but it was made clear to the 26-year-old in a meeting with new manager Unai Emery that while the offer of a reduced contract remained, he could not be guaranteed significant playing time. Understandably, Wilshere feels that at this point in his career he needs to be playing first-team football, and therefore had no option but to announce his departure.
While a good deal of time could be spent looking back at Wilshere’s Arsenal career, the more pressing question must surely be who will he sign for next? With his long history of injuries, it is difficult to see any of the top six Premier League clubs coming in for him, even on a free transfer. That leaves the smaller clubs in the Premier League, and possibly the odd big club in Europe, as likely candidates.
To narrow down the possibilities, we’ve drawn up a list of potential destinations based on the current odds at the bookies. It may be that he ends up somewhere completely different, but it at least provides an indication of which clubs are considered his more likely destinations at this point in time.
West Ham United (5/4)
West Ham are the current bookies’ favourites to sign Wilshere. With all due respect to West Ham, joining the Hammers would represent a considerable drop in quality for Wilshere, but it may be that remaining in London ranks high on his list of priorities. Manuel Pellegrini’s appointment as manager however, is a sign of the club’s ambitions. Whether those factors would be enough to tempt a player who must surely harbour ambitions of winning regular silverware and playing European football remains to be seen.
Crystal Palace (2/1)
Like West Ham, Crystal Palace are Wilshere’s best bet for regular first-team football. With the right contract protecting Palace in the event that Wilshere suffers another long-term injury, Selhurst Park could a good fit for both parties, and Roy Hodgson is an admirer, having likened Wilshere in the past to Paul Scholes.
Everton are striving for European football and Wilshere could see himself as the man to help get them there. They have an ambitious owner, a highly-rated new manager, a talented squad and an excellent youth set-up. However, the club has admitted that it must get its house in order after a period of lavish spending failed to bear fruit. Bringing in an injury-prone player on money that would be at the upper end of Everton’s wage structure seems at odds with their plans.
While Wilshere has played for Bournemouth on loan, would fit their style of play, is admired by Eddie Howe and would almost certainly be guaranteed first-team football, it is unlikely the Cherries could match his ambition.
A bit of stretch, this one. It’s hard to see Wilshere agreeing to join a promoted side.
It would be fascinating to see how Wilshere would fare on the continent and it’s my opinion that his style would suit the slower tempo and more measured approach of Italian football. However, few English players ply their trade abroad and with three kids in education in England, it is hard to see Wilshere uprooting his family, even if the professional upside is tempting.
Chelsea are the only top six club given a chance of coming in for Wilshere. However, the odds are likely quite generous. Chelsea would surely baulk at Wilshere’s injury record while Wilshere, who has stated that he is looking for first-team football, would be unlikely to achieve that aim at Stamford Bridge.
Odds as per Oddschecker.com at time of writing.