Jack Wilshere has been speaking to FourFourTwo about leaving Arsenal and the struggles that he's had since his Emirates exit in 2018.
In the latest issue of FFT - a special on the current wonderkids of the future, 10 years on from Wilshere being touted as such - the midfielder talked about the hype that surrounded his career from a young age and how he has ended up clubless at the age of 29, after spells at West Ham and Bournemouth.
Wilshere was released at the end of his contract at Arsenal and joined the Hammers, his boyhood team, three years ago. Last autumn, however, he terminated his deal early and ended up training with Bournemouth in the Championship. When the Cherries weren't promoted, Wilshere again left - and hasn't signed on with another side since.
Now, he's openly discussed how he was offered a new deal by Arsenal - who he'd played for since he was a child - but that he turned it down.
“Even when Arsene told me I could leave, I always knew I had his trust,” says Wilshere, referencing the summer of 2017, when he first returned from a loan from Bournemouth. “In my head, that’s when I realised I might not be with Arsenal forever. So I got fit, fought my way into the team and was offered a deal. In my younger days, I’d never even thought about leaving.”
Wilshere was an intermittent bright spark in Arsenal’s faltering season, Wenger’s last as their manager. Yet when Unai Emery came in as manager, the no.10 decided not to stick around.
“It was the toughest decision of my career,” he admits. “When Arsene left, the club didn’t announce the manager and it dragged on. At the start of the year, I thought I was going to see my contract out and leave, so it was hard to walk away.
“When a new manager comes in and says, ‘You’re not in my plans’, that’s the right time to leave.”
Wilshere has been training with Arsenal of late, as he looks to keep up his fitness and search for another club. The former England international was rumoured to have been interested in a move to Serie B, only to be foiled by work permit issues.
Now, Wilshere tells FFT exclusively that he's not enjoyed football for a while - but that he's picky about where he plays next.
“I think my next club needs to be the right fit for me in terms of style of play – but also style of the league,” he explains. “Somewhere that I’m going to be able to enjoy my football again. I had a good time last season back at Bournemouth, but being a free agent... the last six months have been difficult. It’s been a while since I’ve enjoyed football.”
Get your hands on the latest issue of FourFourTwo magazine – available in print or on iPad and iPhone – from Wednesday, November 17.
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