With Italian Serie A outfit Sampdoria being linked with the services of Jack Wilshere, lots of people are wondering if the Arsenal youth product has enough motivation in his reserves to turn a stalling career around.
Recent seasons have not been the easiest for Wilshere – the Arsenal midfielder was sent out on loan to AFC Bournemouth where he enjoyed a bit-part role with the Cherries under manager Eddie Howe and now his long-term future with the Gunners is being called into question again with reports linking the midfielder with a move to the boot-shaped nation.
Traditionally, English footballers haven’t enjoyed tremendous success abroad – favouring the comfortable environment of home more so – and that means that Wilshere would be immediately up against it should he transfer to Sampdoria. One need only look as far as Des Walker’s disappointing stint with I Blucerchiati to know just how badly these sorts of moves can go for British stars.
Walker only managed a single season under Sven Goran Eriksson, playing 30 matches, but he wasn’t utilised in the central defensive position he was most comfortable in. Instead, Eriksson opted play him at full-back and Walker never settled, eventually returning to England to play with Sheffield Wednesday.
That said, one need only look at David Platt’s successful spell with the Genoa club in the mid-1990s which saw him claim the Coppa Italia crown in ’94 to see the other, more positive side of things. Plus, both Graeme Souness and Trevor Francis enjoyed a relatively bright spell with the club in the 80s, so it’s not all doom and gloom. Although, let’s just be thankful Instagram wasn’t around back then, or we’d have seen more of the pair than we would have liked – ‘Exhibit A’, the obvious example.
In a foreign, testing atmosphere where he would be forced to deal with a whole new culture, new diet and of course a new squad of team-mates, it would certainly be an immense challenge for Wilshere to adapt to his new surroundings.
But there would be plenty of positives for the English star to take should he sign on the dotted line with Sampdoria.
For starters, the Serie A has been going through a resurgence of late.
Not quite at the levels we all came to know and love during the romance and idyllic style of James Richardson’s presenting on Football Italia back in the 90s and late “noughties”, with his pink Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper and piping hot café outside a local eatery – but it’s getting there.
Juventus, after all, have not reached the UEFA Champions League final for two of the last three seasons for nothing. Likewise, AC Milan’s impressive transfer market purchases and ability to hold on to hotshot ‘keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma further back-up the claim that Italy is becoming a force to be reckoned with once again on the club scene.
Sampdoria might not be the best club in the land, but if Wilshere manages to snag a move in that direction he will be entering one of the grandest and fastest-improving scenes in football right now. It’s a hotbed for great football and can become a very rich resource in his football redevelopment.
If the 25-year-old England international wants to bounce back from the brink and showcase that he still has what it takes to deserve a starring role in a big club with aspirations of silverware again, then he can earn that chance with a fine eight or nine months stay in the North West of Italy.
Having struggled with injury and inconsistent form as well as being essentially ignored by Premier League clubs, it would make sense for him to travel abroad, rediscover his touch and reconnect with a different level of football.
There are no guarantees that it will work out – there rarely are in football – but it would at least provide him with the chance to gain a different perspective, tune into a new wavelength of football education and maybe, just maybe, it will prove to be his baptism of fire en route to rebirth as an exciting footballer who still has his prime years to look forward to.