While we all wait eagerly to see who else will be added to Arsenal’s squad this summer, it’s worth pointing out that the two most important signings have already been made.
Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere were signed to long term contracts in June and November last year respectively.
Given the near certainty that we will start the new season without either or both of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, it is tempting to feel downhearted.
Losing Cesc, in particular, would be a body blow because he is rightly regarded as one of the top players in the world. For the statisticians among you, I believe he was named as the most effective player in Europe last year.
But even were he to go I just cannot join the ranks of the breast-beaters and hair-wringers, precisely because we have Jack and Aaron waiting in the wings.
Jack has already demonstrated – in just one season of first team football – that he is one of the best players in the EPL.
I was challenged in comments recently to outline what Jack currently contributes to the team (as opposed to what he might contribute in the future).
The more I thought about it, the more obvious it was that his contribution is phenomenal: short passing, medium passing, long passing, defence-splitting through balls, vision, ability to pick out attackers’ runs, non-stop effort, tackling, tenacity, courage, leading by example…
Frightening when you think that he is not the finished article yet. But he is already good enough for the England manager to build the national team around him and he was one of the stand-out players across the whole of the EPL last year.
Aaron’s development, as we all know, was delayed by the thuggishness of Ryan Shawcross, but he made a welcome return to the first team towards the end of the last campaign.
Before his horrific injury he was showing a Gerrard-esque ability to dictate play, pass the ball and make surging runs into the box. He also has a knack for finding the back of the net (something Wilshere has yet to acquire).
Again, he is an outstanding talent who will prove to be one of the best midfielders of his generation.
That Arsenal should be lucky enough to have two such prodigies available to us is a cause for huge optimism. I fully expect them to form a midfield partnership that will be unsurpassed in the English league for years to come.
Incidentally, I rate both of them as already having more talent that Samir Nasri. I love Nasri’s dribbling ability and his finishing, but whenever he has played in the so-called Cesc role he has looked lost and the team has struggled. He does not have the vision or passing range of either Wilshere or Ramsey.
If Cesc stays for one more year I will be delighted. But if not, it will be time for the next generation to step up.
Get ready for the Jack and Aaron show. It’s going to be something really, really special.