Arsene Wenger has indicated that he might use Jack Wilshere in a wide position in order to fit him into Arsenal’s team next season.
The Gunners have a host of midfield options and the England international faces a battle to regain his place after spending much of last season out with his latest injury setback.
Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil are creative players who all have a preference for playing centrally, while Francis Coquelin, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini compete for the deeper role which Wilshere has recently fulfilled with great success for the Three Lions.
But Wenger has hinted that he might find a solution by deploying the 23-year-old on the wing.
“For me he can play in all the offensive positions. Wide, central, and we have many good creative players,” Wenger is quoted by The Guardian as saying. “They will all tell you they want to play centrally. Unfortunately, some have to go wide as well.
“He was injured last year, early in the season and missed five months. The top level today is so demanding physically that to be in and out is a nightmare for the players.
“He needs continuity. After that we play so many games, and we had a big squad but not a massive one, and the opportunities will be there for everyone.”
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Wenger’s issue would be that accommodating Wilshere on one of the flanks would come at the sacrifice of a more natural wide-man who could offer Arsenal greater pace and potency in attack.
Alexis Sanchez is a certain starter following his 25-goal debut season, while the speed and striking instincts of Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck make them more suitable as wide forwards than Wilshere.
Even Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has had almost as many injury problems as Wilshere, has outscored his international teammate 10 to nine since his arrival at the Emirates Stadium in 2011.
Equally concerning for Wilshere is that he does not create as many goals as those whom he hopes to oust for central roles. He averages an assist every eight games in his 119 appearances for the Gunners.
It is perhaps with good reason, then, that Wilshere is planning talks with Wenger to discuss his position at the club, as he confirmed after scoring this goal in the 4-0 Asia Cup win over a Singapore XI yesterday.
He is quoted by The Sun as saying: “I haven’t spoken to the boss about my role but I will do before the start of the season. The competition for places next season is going to be unbelievable now that everyone is fit but I’m up for the challenge and I’m sure the other boys are as well.”