QPR captain Joey Barton has questioned the media portrayal of Arsenal youngster Jack Wilshere by claiming the England international is not the 'golden boy' they would have us believe.
The controversial QPR star claims the vastly different media images of Arsenal playmaker Jack Wilshere, who could be back for Arsene Wenger's side at the end of next month, and Manchester City's Mario Balotelli, indicate how the British press can have a hold over people's opinions of young footballers in this country.
The Arsenal youngster is regularly championed as his club and country's great hope, yet Barton suggests some of Wilshere's off-field indiscretions have been glossed over in order to purport the Gunner as a "a goody two -shoes".
Barton believes Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli gets entirely different treatment from the press, intimating every mistake is pounced on where the precocious young Italian is concerned, unlike his equally talented Arsenal counterpart.
Wilshere, who has missed the entirety of Arsenal's season to date following an injury sustained during the Emirates Cup in preseason, has been involved in a number of unwelcome off-field problems during his fledgling Gunners' career, in the same way the aforementioned Manchester City star has, yet Barton believes the Arsenal midfielder's alleged issues are often forgotten by the British media.
"I find him really amusing. Some of the things he (Balotelli) does are a bit worrying, but he's just a young boy trying to find his way in life." Barton told the latest issue of FourFourTwo Magazine when discussing Manchester City's Mario Balotelli and the different image of Arsenal's Jack Wilshere. "It's interesting watching the media deal with him at the moment.
"Some of things you do are quite petty but the media blow them out of all proportion. On the flipside of that, you've got the golden boy Jack Wilshere (of Arsenal), who's done a lot worse things than Balotelli yet it's massively played down.
"Obviously he (Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere) and Balotelli are having the same sort of problems off the pitch but one is perceived to be a goody two -shoes."
The aforementioned Arsenal starlet won the PFA Player of the Year award last season and has established himself as a key figure both for Arsene Wenger at the Emirates and for the national side under Fabio Capello.
The Arsenal starlet is currently stepping up his rehabilitation from a stress fracture of the ankle and Arsene Wenger recently hinted the 19-year-old, who turns 20 on New Year's Day, could be back in first team action next month.
In August 2010 the Arsenal playmaker received a police caution following an alleged incident outside a nightclub in the early hours, while in March 2011 he allegedly received a second caution for reportedly spitting at a cab driver.
Joey Barton was speaking to the January issue of FourFourTwo Magazine which is on sale now.