It’s a summer of change at West Ham United. Gone are the dependable yet limited faces of James Collins and David Moyes. In are the exciting and experienced Manuel Pellegrini, Ryan Fredericks, Issa Diop and Jack Wilshere.
The quartet each represents a significant improvement on what the Hammers had last season.
Yet it’s the signing of ex-Arsenal ace Wilshere which encapsulates the direction in which the East London club look to be heading.
Arguably it’s the first time since Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano arrived in 2006 that the Irons have landed a player with the ability to change the way the team operates and the club is perceived.
Wilshere has endured a miserable few years due to injury. But over the last 12 months he’s proved his fitness and last season featured 38 times for Arsenal in all competitions.
His good form also earned him an England recall in March.
Had it not been for a slight knock which ruled him out of the matches against the Netherlands and Italy, the diminutive ace may well have been in Gareth Southgate’s plans for the World Cup this summer.
West Ham haven’t had a player of his quality in a midfield position for some time.
The 26-year-old has the ability to break up the play, spot a pass and drive the team forward in a quick and polished manner. Combining all of those attributes is no mean feat.
Mark Noble has been burdened with the role for some time. But the lifelong Hammer is limited in his ability, which in turn restricts how far the club can move up the table.
Former Arsenal man Wilshere is an upgrade on Noble. What’s more, he’ll dictate the tempo and could thrive being a big fish in a slightly smaller pond.
The big message when West Ham made the move to the London Stadium from Upton Park two summers ago revolved around taking the club to the next level.
Getting Wilshere in the door represents a chance to do just that. But it could mean sacrificing Noble’s loyalty, longevity and popularity amongst the fans for the move to really work.
All Odds and Markets correct as of date of publication