Arsenal lead race to sign their biggest talent since Jack Wilshere

Arsenal’s primary focus this winter will be on fortifying their ranks at the top end of the pitch after a dismal period in front of goal.

Across their last three matches the Gunners have scored just one goal from 61 attempts. It’s dreadful reading, particularly for a club who were so free-flowing last term.

However, it’s also believed that Mikel Arteta and Co are targeting a midfielder following Kai Havertz’s topsy-turvy start to life at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal’s hunt for a midfielder

One of the primary rumours throughout the opening two weeks of the January window has concerned Everton’s Amadou Onana.

Reports last week suggested that the Gunners were eyeing a marquee £60m move for the Belgian midfielder but fresher reports suggest it’s another Belgium sensation on their radar.

Indeed. journalist Graeme Bailey has reported that the north Londoners are currently leading the race to secure the signature of young prodigy Arthur Vermeeren.


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It’s stated that there is further interest from Barcelona, Manchester United and rivals Tottenham, although it is Arsenal who are in the driver’s seat to sign the 18-year-old from Royal Antwerp.

How Arthur Vermeeren compares to Jack Wilshere

Jack Wilshere burst onto the scene as a teenager back in 2008/09 and was seen as the ‘saviour’ of English football.


He was what a certain Jude Bellingham felt like now. Wilshere had the world at his feet and was dominating the best teams in Europe. Indeed, after Arsenal beat Barcelona 2-1 in the Champions League in 2011 it clearly left a lasting legacy on the legendary Xavi.

Arsenal starting XI: vs Barcelona Feb 2011


Wojciech Szczesny


Emmanuel Eboue


Johan Djourou


Laurent Koscielny


Gael Clichy


Alex Song


Jack Wilshere


Cesc Fabregas


Theo Walcott


Samir Nasri


Robin van Persie

A number of years after that game, the Spaniard said: “If he had a career that had been injury-free we would already be talking about him as one of the top central midfield players in Europe.

“For many years now the one position England have not struggled with is world-class midfield players. Scholes, and then more recently Lampard and Gerrard. Now I see Wilshere as the future of English football, that is why it is so important they keep him fit.”

As a result of injury though, the midfielder was forced to retire early and is now Arsenal’s manager at U18 level.

In the aforementioned Vermeeren, they could finally acquire a player capable of becoming the player everyone thought Wilshere would be.


Notably hailed as “one of the most complete young midfielders in Europe” by scout Jacek Kulig, the teen sensation playing in Belgium has a number of desirable attributes. Compared to positionally similar players in Europe’s top five leagues and continental competitions (via FBref) Vermeeren ranks in the top 8% of midfielders for long pass success, the top 19% for progressive passes and the best 13% for carries.

Already you can see similarities beginning to appear with Wilshere, one of the finest young ball-carriers we saw across Europe over a decade ago.

Vermeeren vs Wilshere: First two professional seasons

Stat (per game)






Key Passes






Pass Success









Stats via WhoScored.

When you compare their first two professional seasons, you can see trends beginning to appear too, notably in their ability to create but also break up the play from deep.

Of course, Wilshere was performing in the Premier League and Champions League as a teenager, but it surely won’t be long before we see one of the continent’s finest young players in a top division. England awaits, as does Arsenal for their most vibrant midfield sensation since their former poster boy for the academy.

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