Is Arsenal's Jack Wilshere really ready to be the English Pirlo?
He’s being touted as the answer to Roy Hodgson's midfield problems - but the stats suggest otherwise
IN THE WAKE of England's limp exit from Euro 2012 the search is on for a midfielder who can control the game like Italy's Andrea Pirlo, whose performance in Sunday's quarter final in Kiev epitomised the gulf in class between the two sides.
Arsenal's Jack Wilshere has been identified as the man to turn England into worldbeaters by former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp, who was tipped by many to become England manager before the job was handed to Roy Hodgson.
Redknapp has been waxing lyrical to anyone who will listen about Pirlo's midfield artistry and the need for England to find a playmaker of their own, but he believes that Hodgson will not have to look too far to find one.
He told betfair.com: "Italy had a magician on the pitch... but England do have one of our own in the shape of Jack Wilshere and that's one reason to believe we can improve in the future."
But is Wilshere up to the job? The 20-year-old has not played a competitive match for over a year thanks to a succession of injuries and he still has plenty to prove, with just a season-and-a-half of Premier League experience under his belt.
His injury woes have been well documented and Arsenal fans are still in the dark over the date of his latest comeback.
"Even now it it still unclear if he will be back for pre-season. Wenger has wisely not predicted that he will return for training on 9 July with the rest of the squad, and at this point supporters would be sceptical of any such promise," says the website Here Is The City.
Even if he does rediscover his form and fitness the Daily Mail points out that his stats do not match up to those of Pirlo. It compares the two players over the course of a season.
In his one full season for Arsenal Wilshere managed nine shots on target, three goal assists and a single goal scored. Last season for Juventus, Pirlo managed three goals and set up 13. The Italian completed more than 3,000 passes, almost 1,300 more than Wilshere, who managed 1,900. Pirlo also put in 283 crosses, while the Arsenal man managed just 53.
While Wilshere is undoubtedly a key asset for England, he may not be the answer to all of Hodgson’s prayers.