Jack Wilshere is hardly an unknown to Premier League followers, having made his competitive debut for Arsenal – at 16 years and 256 days, the youngest player in the history of the club to do so – against Blackburn almost 10 years ago. But he begins the 2018/19 season registered to a different club for the first time in his career, having joined the Manuel Pellegrini revolution at West Ham United.
It is now 17 years since the nine-year-old Wilshere joined the Arsenal academy after a short spell with the Luton Town youth set-up, but he leaves the club with a definite sense of unfinished business. Two loan spells away from the club – with Bolton Wanderers in 2010 and Bournemouth for the 2016/17 season – give a nod to the fact that he never truly fulfilled his significant potential, with a succession of injuries curtailing any momentum he ever built under the stewardship of the now departed Arsene Wenger. Despite flashes of outstanding quality at both club and international level – Wilshere has 34 England caps, and went to both the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016 – he was permitted to leave by new Arsenal boss Unai Emery when his contract ran out at the start of July. He will wear the number 19 shirt at West Ham – the same number he sported when making his Arsenal debut a decade ago.