Mikel Arteta says he fully expects Jack Wilshere to return to Arsenal in the future but for now, he’s happy that his players have helped the midfielder rediscover his love for football.
After several months of training with the Gunners’ first team, it was announced this week that Danish side AGF Aarhus have signed the 30-year-old on an initial six-month contract.
— AGF (@AGFFodbold) February 20, 2022
For Wilshere, the deal ends an eight-month spell without a club and, following a spate of frustrating injuries, the opportunity to re-energise a playing career that has faltered since he left Emirates Stadium.
“First of all, thank you for what he’s done in all the time with us,” said Arteta on Wednesday.
“It’s been great to have him and speaking on behalf of everybody at the club it’s been absolutely a pleasure to have Jack back, to enjoy watching him play again next to us, to have him around, the inspiration that he is to all the young people.
“Hopefully, we can help him, we have helped him a bit as well because he was in doubt about what to do, whether to start coaching or continue playing.
“This group of players have given him again that necessity to experience on a daily basis, how magnificent it is to feel like a football player. I think he wants to experience that again and we wish him the best of luck.”
For the time being, Wilshere’s move puts his coaching ambitions on the back burner although he’s made enough of an impression working with Arsenal’s academy youngsters that Arteta has no doubts the club will welcome him back.
“100 per cent,” said Arteta when asked if he can see the player coming back to London Colney.
“I think everybody at the club will be willing to open the doors for him and try to find a role for him that can work for everybody. I think that will happen naturally.”
Arteta also joked that there’s no doubt that Wilshere has matured since the pair shared a dressing room during Arsene Wenger’s days at the club. Back then, Wilshere had a reputation for boyish tomfoolery, best exemplified by his teasing our local neighbours.
“I think he’s come a long way,” said Arteta. “I don’t think he can lose that spontaneity that he has, the character and the funny moments that he can produce because that’s part of Jack, obviously. But the years have gone by and he’s matured a lot.”