For West Ham fans, this transfer window looks set to be an exciting one. With the rumour mill churning out a whole host of ambitious, big signings, it would seem the board have finally taken steps to alleviate the pressure from fans that came to a head last season. After having already signed Swansea keeper Lukasz Fabianski for £7million, Issa Diop, and Fulham’s Ryan Fredericks on a free transfer, West Ham are now reportedly very close to the capture of Jack Wilshere.
Playing for his beloved West Ham
The 26-year-old life-long West Ham fan is available on a free transfer, after his contract at Arsenal expired this summer. Despite offering him a new contract, Arsenal could not convince him to stay, with concern over reduced playing time under new boss Unai Emery. If rumours are to be believed, he has already undergone a medical and an official announcement is imminent.
West Ham ‘In the know’ account @ExWHUEmployee (who has been spot-on for predicting and pre-empting club transfer news in the past) broke the news that the club wanted Wilshere, months ago. On the 7th of July, he confirmed that Wilshere would be completing his move to the London Stadium on Monday or Tuesday of this week.
It is believed that he has snubbed interest from Fenerbahce, to secure a move to the club he supported as a boy. It is thought that, following talks with new manager Manuel Pellegrini last week, he will be signing a three-year deal, on £100,000 a week.
When asked about his love for West Ham, he said: “I think I must have been about six or seven, my whole family were West ham fans. I was a West Ham fan, still have a soft spot for them of course. I had all the shirts.”
Will Wilshere’s fitness be a concern?
Whilst an exciting prospect for fans, some will be questioning whether his previous injury record will be problematic. West Ham already have players in their ranks who are unfit, and some may say signing someone who has missed 155 games over his career due to injury is a risky move. Since January 2018, he has picked up 3 ankle injuries and a knee injury.
With Manuel Lanzini ruled out for the entirety of next season, after rupturing his anterior knee ligament (which also saw him miss the World Cup), Wilshere will provide some much-needed creativity within the squad. Former West Ham striker Dean Ashton, however, believes Lanzini’s absence may do Wilshere more harm than good:
“Straight away he’s going to be under pressure to play a lot of football. West Ham fans have been used to me retiring, Andy Carroll being injured and with Manuel Lanzini injured now, he’s going to be under pressure to play a lot of games and do the business.”
Borussia Dortmund’s Andriy Yarmolenko is also speculated to be joining West Ham, which will give their midfield a great boost. Their attempts to secure Felipe Anderson are believed to have been fruitless, but shockingly, former midfielder Dimitri Payet has been linked with a return to the club.
What can he bring to the squad?
Well, for a start, his distribution and vision are second to none. His smaller stature means he can make penetrating runs from box-to-box and accelerate away from defenders. He is also extremely versatile, given that he has been played in a variety of different positions over his career (attacking midfielder, winger, deep-lying central midfielder).
Having been touted for greatness, both internationally and at club-level from a very young age, some would say he hasn’t lived up to the high expectations. It’s possible he may have peaked too early. But he still has a brilliant work rate and displays great leadership on the pitch. If anything, him being left out of this year’s World Cup squad should only serve as motivation for him to prove any naysayers wrong.
Loyalty and passion
Jack will undoubtedly learn from fan favourite Mark Noble; another passionate and steely English midfielder. Wilshere is only 26 – 5 years younger than Mark. If he impresses at West Ham and develops his leadership skills further, who’s to say he couldn’t take over as captain when Noble retires? He has also proven he’s got a bit of a fierce streak, which could suit West Ham. After numerous confrontations over the years, including last year’s brawl with Man City’s under-23 team, he’s shown he’s not afraid to get stuck in.
It’s obvious that leaving Arsenal after 17 years wasn’t a decision he took lightly. After rising through the ranks of their youth team, which he joined aged nine, to playing at senior-level, he has shown he loved the club. However, Wenger made it quite plain he wasn’t in his plans, having apparently said: “if you can get a contract elsewhere, you can go”.
Despite knowing he was on the periphery of Wenger’s plans, he continued to train hard and give his all, when some players would have sulked. After being loaned out to Bournemouth, and by all accounts doing well, Arsenal reconsidered and offered him £80,000 a week – albeit playing far less. Loyalty and passion goes a long way with West Ham fans.
And, let’s be honest, his public displays of hatred towards Tottenham will only help his cause.