Former Arsenal midfielder Ray Parlour has praised Jack Wilshere for not taking the easy option of signing a new deal at the club just to sit on the bench.
England international Wilshere, overlooked for Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad, joined Premier League rivals West Ham on a three-year contract last week after opting not to remain at the Emirates Stadium.
Wilshere revealed earlier in the summer that a conversation with new Gunners head coach Unai Emery left him facing up to the prospect of being on the periphery of the set-up moving forwards.
Emery, who replaced Arsene Wenger in May, has since said it was a “tactical, technical decision” to tell Wilshere he was not a major part of his plans.
Parlour left Arsenal for Middlesbrough in 2004 in similar circumstances to Wilshere’s exit, albeit at a much later stage in his career, and has backed the 26-year-old for taking the risk of leaving to rebuild a career which has been beset with injuries.
“Jack Wilshere has made a big decision and it was his to make,” he said. “He met the manager and realised he might have been third or fourth in the pecking order. As a player who has missed so much football, he needs to play.
“I’m gutted that he’s left because I would love to see him still in an Arsenal shirt, but I’m really pleased he’s gone to a club to play football because there is nothing worse than training hard all week and then sitting in the stands.
“West Ham have got a very good signing there. We always look at his fitness record, but if he can stay fit we all know how good he is. That is what West Ham have to manage now.”
Parlour was part of the Arsenal first team as Wilshere was progressing through the ranks and believes West Ham have landed themselves a player who can make a difference.
“He is going to be their main man in midfield and will get a lot of game time,” he added. “He is a magnificent player – there are only two players I’ve seen as youngsters come straight through to the first team that I have thought, ‘These are going to be top, top stars’. One was Jack and the other Cesc Fabregas.”
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