Barcelona view Jack Wilshere as the ideal long-term replacement for Xavi and Andres Iniesta, and are willing to pay the type of money required to supplant such world-class talents.
Jack Wilson of the Daily Star reports Wilshere has been identified as the model replacement for the ageing Barca pair, who turn 34 and 30 respectively next year:
The La Liga champions will make their first move in January and hope to complete the deal in the summer, according to sources in Spain.
Signing Wilshere is seen as a priority for the Spanish giants.
Barcelona’s need to inject youth and hunger into the squad is slowly becoming evident at the Camp Nou.
While they remain dominant in their domestic league, scoring 28 goals and conceding only six in their opening nine matches, the Catalans no longer appear to boast the same sharpness and agility shown by reigning European champions Bayern Munich, who swarmed them 7-0 on aggregate last season.
The new Champions League campaign has seen Barca held by a poor AC Milan side who are struggling badly in Serie A, while Gerardo Martino’s men only barely beat Celtic.
The lazy conclusion to draw is that Barca’s tiki-taka style no longer works on the biggest stage. However, such a conclusion could not be more wrong, proven by the fact Pep Guardiola has introduced his same philosophy at Bayern.
Barca’s issue, other than their penetrable defence, is that their focal duo—the axis on which their incredible success has been based—is ageing. As a knock-on effect, the tempo and intensity with which they move the ball has dropped.
Iniesta will sign a new long-term Barcelona deal, per the Guardian, but both he and Xavi are showing signs of decline. Xavi registered 16 goals for club and country two seasons ago but only recorded half that figure the following year, per ESPN FC.
Iniesta was magnificent last term, creating 22 goals in all competitions, yet he has not played a part in a single league goal so far in the 2013/14 season.
Wilshere plays football the Barcelona way, keeping passes short and moving the ball with tempo and accuracy. His recent goal for Arsenal against Norwich was right out of the Barcelona handbook.
The fact he operates from deep in the midfield also makes him a suitable fit as Xavi’s long-term successor.
Is Wilshere good enough to replace Xavi?
A further value Wilshere would bring is hunger. Xavi and Iniesta have won every major club and international trophy worth winning. Wilshere’s trophy cabinet is empty.
However, Arsenal know the England international represents the soul of the club’s future, so any transfer would likely cost in excess of £40 million.
For Arsene Wenger to sell such a fan favourite would spark outcry among Arsenal fans, so Barcelona should be braced for an incredible fight for his services.