Jack Wilshere interview: I'm open to the idea of playing in the UAE

Former England midfielder is currently without a club after being released by West Ham

Jack Wilshere says he would be happy to play in the Arabian Gulf League as he bids to revive his stalled career.

The 28-year-old former England midfielder has been a free agent since leaving West Ham United at the start of October.

He has been linked with a move to a number of clubs in the UK, but he says he would be open to a move abroad.

Wilshere said that he discussed the AGL with Manuel Lanzini during their time together at West Ham.

The UAE’s top division proved to be a stepping stone between South American football and the English Premier League for the Argentine playmaker.

After arriving from River Plate, Lanzini enjoyed a brief but successful stint with Al Jazira in Abu Dhabi between 2014 and 2016, before moving on to join West Ham.

Wilshere sees the benefit in such a move for him, but points out that he is just keen to return to playing – and would happily remain in the UAE if such a move happened and proved a success.

"I spoke with Lanzini about it, as I got on really well with him," Wilshere told The National. "He enjoyed his time [here] massively. That is one thing that stuck with me.

"If I do come here and play, it doesn’t necessarily mean that – like a few people have said – there would be no way back.

“At the same time, if you enjoy it and you are enjoying your football, then why not stay over here?

“But also, if you come over here, play some games and play well, you open yourself up to a different market as well.

“I would enjoy playing over here, but it doesn’t mean you would use it as the end of your career. It would provide a different challenge. To try and be successful over here would be nice.”

Wilshere had the chance to move overseas in 2016, before opting for a loan deal from Arsenal to Bournemouth instead.

“I had a few opportunities, but at the time, it didn’t feel right,” Wilshere said. “I still wanted to play in the Premier League. I met with loads of clubs in the Premier League at that stage, and a few in Italy.

“I made that decision because I wanted to come back and fight for my place at Arsenal. It felt like I had a place at Arsenal, it was my club, and it worked as well.

“I went to Bournemouth, played 28 games, then broke my leg. That was obviously not ideal, but I went back to Arsenal, got myself really fit, and got myself back in the team.

“At that stage of my career I wasn’t ready [to go abroad to play] but now I am.”

Wilshere, who played 34 times for England up until 2016, is in Dubai at present to train at the NAS Sports Complex, as he attempts to stay fit for football.

He is grateful for the chance for some warm-weather training during his first time outside of a professional club set up in the best part of two decades.

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“At first it was quite nice,” he says of being without a club. “Because of everything that went on at West Ham, it was a relief to be able to leave, because I didn’t have the opportunity to play.

“It didn’t feel right to be at a place training, and not be given that opportunity. I wanted to get out, and I’m thankful to them that we reached an agreement.

“For the first couple of weeks it was a relief. Then, of course, you miss the lads, you miss the routine.

“I think that is the most difficult thing. When you wake up and know you have to train, but you can train when you want, and you have to go out on your own.

“Coming here has helped, because I have a trainer who says, ‘Right, I’m picking you up at this time, we will be doing this, this and this,’ and you have structure.

“That is helping massively. There have been some difficult times, but it is good to be here now.”

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