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Arsenal Transfers: Gunners Reportedly Open to January Offers for Jack Wilshere

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistNovember 26, 2017

COLOGNE, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 23:  Jack Wilshere of Arsenal runs with the ball during the UEFA Europa League group H match between 1. FC Koeln and Arsenal FC at RheinEnergieStadion on November 23, 2017 in Cologne, Germany.  (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images)
Boris Streubel/Getty Images

Arsenal are reportedly open to considering offers for Jack Wilshere during the January transfer window. Wilshere is one of three key players, along with Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, whose contract expires next summer, meaning the Gunners would need to sell this winter if they want to receive a fee.

A report from Colin Mafham of the Sunday Express has revealed how the north London club will listen to any offers made in January: "No reasonable offer looks likely to be refused for Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and Jack Wilshere—no matter how Arsene Wenger feels about it—if they don't pen new deals."

Mafham's reference to the club's willingness to consider bids regardless of the manager's feelings is telling. Wenger has always been a steadfast admirer of Wilshere's talents.

Arsenal could be prepared to sell Wilshere in January, rather than let him leave for free next summer.
Arsenal could be prepared to sell Wilshere in January, rather than let him leave for free next summer.Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Yet as Mafham also pointed out, the England international's time at the Emirates Stadium could still soon be up: "But because of his bad luck with injuries, Wilshere, impressive in the Europa League loss at Cologne last Thursday, could be moved on anyway—at the right price."

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Wilshere has struggled to stay fit since suffering ankle ligament damage back in 2011. Wenger has kept faith in the player but has also found it hard to fit him into the starting XI in recent years, even sanctioning a loan move to fellow Premier League side Bournemouth last season.

Wilshere has started for the Gunners this season but only in the UEFA Europa League and Carabao Cup. He has made just three appearances in the league, all off the substitutes' bench.

The last of those three cameos came during Sunday's 1-0 win away to Burnley. As James Olley of the London Evening Standard detailed, Wilshere wasn't given long to prove his worth in league action:

James Olley @JamesOlley

Wilshere gets his chance. 23 minutes to affect the game. On for Iwobi. 0-0

Evening Standard colleague James Benge felt Wilshere's benching against the Clarets spoke volumes about the midfielder's status:

James Benge @jamesbenge

Remarkable that after Wilshere yet again bemoaned his lack of chances in league Wenger goes for Iwobi not Jack. Odds really shortening on him leaving club.

Wilshere is growing frustrated about his lack of opportunities in the league. He recently talked up the possibility of moving on while foreshadowing talks with Wenger about his future, per Goal's Chris Burton: "But, at the same time, the boss has got to be honest with me and I'm sure he will. I think we will have to talk about [leaving in January] when it comes down to it."

Wilshere's latest words are a far cry from those he gave to Amy Lawrence of the Guardian in late September, when he made clear his desire to stay with the Gunners.

Meanwhile, Wenger was full of praise for Wilshere's efforts against Burnley, per Layth Yousif of the Islington Gazette: "I feel he did alright when he came on because he has little burst to be dangerous. I think he's focused, determined—and that's what we want from him. We play so many games; he's getting stronger in every game."

Wenger remains keen to have Wilshere involved.
Wenger remains keen to have Wilshere involved.Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

One of the difficulties for Wenger when it comes to starting Wilshere is identifying the 25-year-old's best position. The classy No. 10's touch, technique, flair and ability to carry the ball past players are often best suited wide or in central positions behind the striker.

Wilshere has operated in those areas between the midfield and forward lines in the Europa League. Yet not everybody thinks he should play so far forward.

There are those who believe the England international should operate deeper, with Benge among them:

James Benge @jamesbenge

I know I bang the drum about this but Arsenal have to play Wilshere in midfield two so he can dictate play. There's no-one to link play with front three early on so he's having to drop deep anyway.

Wherever he plays, Wilshere has the technical quality to be an asset in an Arsenal squad still built to control possession. Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka are also comfortable on the ball, but the Gunners midfield has missed the vision and creativity of the injured Santi Cazorla.

Wilshere still has value in this squad, particularly if elegant playmaker Ozil leaves. The Germany international is a Barcelona target, with the Camp Nou club ready to begin talks once the calendar flips to 2018, per Mike McGrath of The Sun.

Losing Ozil would put the onus on Wenger to find more schemers to take his place. Keeping a fit and on-form Wilshere would help.

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