Jack Wilshere reveals the moment Arsene Wenger advised him to leave Arsenal

Jack Wilshere and Arsene Wenger chat during Arsenal training
Jack Wilshere was advised to leave Arsenal by Arsene Wenger in the summer of 2017 (Picture: Getty)

Jack Wilshere has lifted the lid on the ‘really honest conversation’ he had with Arsene Wenger in which the Arsenal manager advised him to leave the club for the good of his career.

The midfielder joined Arsenal at the age of nine and rose through the academy ranks before making his first-team debut in September 2008, coming on as a second-half substitute for Robin van Persie in the side’s 4-0 victory away to Blackburn Rovers in the Premier League.

Quickly establishing himself as one of the most exciting prospects in English football, Wilshere was tipped for a huge future with both club and country and went on to win two FA Cups and a Community Shield with the Gunners.

Jack Wilshere during West Ham training
Wilshere is in his second season with the Hammers (Picture: Getty)

However, Wilshere’s Arsenal career was largely defined by a series of frustrating injuries and the England international was sent on a season-long loan to Bournemouth in 2016 to help get his career back on track.

But a serious calf injury ruled him out of the final few months of Bournemouth’s campaign and Wenger encouraged him to leave Arsenal that summer.

‘I’d got injured and stepped away from football for a little bit to take my mind off things,’ Wilshere, now in his second season with West Ham, told Arsenal’s ‘In Lockdown’ podcast.

‘I’d got married and gone on my honeymoon. When I came back I still wasn’t with the team, I was still training on my own, doing my rehab.

‘I remember one afternoon I was sitting in the gym on a bike and Arsene just came and sat next to me and we had a really honest conversation. He said, “Look, this is your last year, the club aren’t going to offer you a new deal. If you find a club who is going to give you a long term deal, if I was you I would go.”


‘At the time I was still injured and nothing really came up. I was considering everything. Once I realised that I wasn’t going to leave, that I was going to stay for another year, I looked around the midfield and thought to myself, “If I get myself really fit and I’ve got a manager who trusts me, who backs me, who knows my ability and if I can prove my fitness to him, I think I can get in this team”, and I did.
 
‘The team didn’t really do well in the league, they started badly. I played a few Under-23 games and then got into the Europa League squad. I played a few of those games, I played well.

‘Then as I thought, Arsene showed faith in me and I played and I managed to play quite a lot of games that season. It was quite a good season.’

Unai Emery looks on during Arsenal's Europa League clash with Eintracht Frankfurt
Emery told Wilshere he would not be in his starting XI (Picture: Getty)

Wilshere says a frank discussion with Wenger’s successor, Unai Emery, convinced him to leave the club ahead of the 2018/19 campaign.
 
‘I was enjoying it and then I got offered a new deal at Arsenal. I obviously had a year left and even into January I was playing in the team and there were still no discussions happening,’ he continued.

‘Then finally the discussions happened. I got offered a new deal and I wasn’t really happy with it. I’d have conversations with Arsene and he was doing all he could for me. We sort of got to the point where we’d almost agreed it and I was almost ready to sign.
 
‘Then the news came that Arsene was leaving and I just thought, “How can I sign a new deal at a club that is based on appearances? I need to play to get a decent amount of money with a manager who I don’t know if he likes me”.

‘I wanted to see who was going to come in and then when Emery did come in I wanted to sit down and have a conversation with him.
 
‘He said to me, “If I was you I would leave, you’re not in my starting XI”. He had plans to buy a midfield, I think he bought [Lucas] Torreira and a few others and I wasn’t in his plans.

‘That was the moment when I decided. A lot of people who I’d grown up with, the staff, the physios, my friends basically [had left] – it felt like the club was going in a different direction and I decided to leave.

‘I was part of Arsenal, it’s a massive club and I was a big part of it, it was difficult. It was a sad time to leave and even now I look back and think, “Yeah, that was a tough time”.’

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