Wenger: Wilshere can be one of the best
Published 08/02/2013 | 11:11
Arsene Wenger subscribes to England captain Steven Gerrard's view that Jack Wilshere can become one of the best players in the world.
Wilshere, 21, was the star of the show for England as they beat Brazil on Wednesday night, the match marking his first start for his country since 2011 owing to a serious ankle injury. If anything, Wilshere's stock rose during his absence, with many citing his creativity as the component England were missing at last summer's European Championships.
Wenger has never been one to get carried away, though, and while happy to laud Wilshere's progress for club and country, he promised to make sure his talisman does not suffer from burnout. "You do not want to set any limit on the development of any player, especially when he plays at that level at his age," Wenger said.
He added: "The most important thing for me will be to keep his passion for the game, and keep the attitude of wanting to become a better player. If he keeps these two ingredients that are not always easy, he can of course become a fantastic player. He is already one, but he can become one of the best in the world, yes."
Wenger handed Wilshere his professional debut against Blackburn in 2008 and has nurtured him from a raw teenager to the player he is today. As a result, he is understandably keen to make sure he gets as much out of him as he can, saying he worries about the player taking on too much at such a young age.
"It is not just the physical aspect but the mental pressure every time he plays. We will have to manage him well physically to make sure he doesn't face that burnout," he said.
"I had in fact expected Jack to play only a part of the game on Wednesday but it didn't happen and because of his quality he will be exposed to that, the overuse of his quality, you can understand that. He will have to be managed like everyone else."
Wednesday's show was proof of what many have long said Wilshere can do. At a time when Paul Gascoigne is in the news - albeit not for the happiest reasons - comparisons have been drawn between England's star playmaker of the 1990s and their new hope.
"As a very young boy he had a very special talent of course. But when you see a boy at 16 years of age, you never know how he will develop," Wenger said of his discovery.
"Let's not forget that he is only 21 now, and he starts his career really because he was out for 17 months. The influence he has today on the England national team already is absolutely fantastic."