Injury-prone Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere should have become the most talented England player since Paul Gascogine, according to ex-Gunner Stewart Robson. The 25-year-old's career stands at a crossroads with 12 months remaining on his contract in north London, leading to links with West Ham United.
After constant fitness troubles had limited Wilshere to just 11 Premier League appearances between October 2014 and May 2016 he was sent on loan to AFC Bournemouth for the 2016-17 campaign. He made 27 outings on the south coast but his campaign inevitably ended on the treatment table after suffering a broken leg.
Wilshere has returned to training at Arsenal this week, but there are few guarantees over his role this season – with the likes of Granit Xhaka, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and the injured Santi Cazorla ahead of him in the pecking order. West Ham have been linked with a move for the ex-Bolton Wanderers loanee, but The Independent understands Arsene Wenger's side are demanding a fee close to £20m (€22.3m).
Despite a succession of injury problems blighting his career, Robson believes Wilshere still has time to fulfill his potential – having ruled out leaving London – identifying West Ham a possible destination. "He could be limiting himself but he wants to play in England and you can understand that," the ex-Arsenal midfielder told ESPN.
"West Ham would be interested I think, lots of clubs will be interested. This is a player that should have been the most talented player since Paul Gascoigne, that England have had. When he came into the Arsenal side everyone was talking about him becoming the next England great but for some reason, and I think that is mismanagement by Arsene Wenger, mismanagement by the medical department and maybe to do with the player and how he has lived his life, he hasn't fulfilled his potential.
"But he still has top quality inside of him. There is a player waiting to come out still.
"I think he needs to get back playing again. He needs to go to a club where he is going to play week-in, week-out when he is fit. And he needs to go where there is a good medical department who are going to keep him fit. It's not the player's fault he keeps getting injured, it is up to the medical staff to keep him fit, build him up to make sure he doesn't get injured week-in, week-out.
"He made some mistakes with the way he acted at times but there was a great player, one of the best at youth level and he hasn't fulfilled his potential so far – but there is still time to do so."
An insight into whether Wilshere is indeed part of Wenger's plans this season is likely to come this weekend, when Arsenal compete in the Emirates Cup, where they face Benfica and Sevilla. Wilshere has resumed training at the club's London Colney training ground but it is yet unknown whether he will be considered fit enough to play a part.
Before their Premier League campaign starts against Leicester City, Arsenal face Chelsea in the Community Shield at Wembley on 6 August – another opportunity for Wilshere to prove he is worthy of both a place in Wenger's thoughts and a new contract.