Arsene Wenger has compared Jack Wilshere to both Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe after the former Arsenal midfielder moved to West Ham.
Wilshere turned down the offer of a new Arsenal contract after Wenger stepped down at the end of last season, saying he had not been guaranteed regular playing time by new boss Unai Emery.
Wenger, who is working as a pundit for beIN Sports during the World Cup, still hailed the midfielder as an “exceptional talent” and compared him to two of the biggest names in the game.
“Jack Wilshere is a playmaker,” Wenger said. “He is a bit of a Messi type. He makes me think about Mbappe because I played him at 17 years of age because he was an exceptional talent.
“Unfortunately he has been stopped very early by big injuries to his ankle, and I believe that now he’s come out of it. He’s an exceptional player — he can pass people, he can give a final ball, he has a fantastic football brain.
“He is a great guy as well because when you have gone through what he has gone through medically you need to be mentally very strong. He can take pressure, believe me.”
After returning from a broken foot, Wilshere proved his fitness for Arsenal last season, making 29 starts in all competitions. But he was still left out of Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad and will be hoping that more regular playing time in the Premier League will put him back in contention for the England team.
Mattias is ESPN FC’s Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.