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Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, aged 20 and 19 at the time, were players of real potential, and Fabregas made sure people knew about it, saying, "Jack and Aaron are the future, and they will do so well because they are competitive and they are winners.


When Cesc Fabregas left Arsenal in 2011, fans were disappointed that such a talent had felt his ambitions could not be realised in North London and the lure of his hometown club was too much to resist.

His departure left a big hole in the midfield, but the former captain sounded a positive note about what lay ahead, pointing to two precocious young talents who could help fill that gap.

Aaron Ramsey and Jack Wilshere, aged 20 and 19 at the time, were players of real potential, and Fabregas made sure people knew about it, saying, "Jack and Aaron are the future, and they will do so well because they are competitive and they are winners.

"They will be amazing for the club."

A cynical view of those comments was a player who left under a cloud attempting to mend fences a little bit, but it shouldn't be forgotten how high the hopes were for both at that point in their careers.

Wilshere was, perhaps, the most naturally gifted English midfielder to emerge in years, while Ramsey was re-establishing himself after enduring a horrendous leg break suffered at Stoke. But his talent was not in question.

Now, seven years down the line, it's hard to make the case that either has fully realised their potential, and this summer the futures of both are in question and, quite possibly, intertwined.


With less than four months remaining on his current contract, Wilshere is involved in a standoff with the club. They've presented him with an offer that he deems unacceptable, and the take-it-or-leave-it stance taken by Arsenal has created an impasse.

Unless someone blinks -- whether that's the player caving in or the club offering more -- the logical conclusion is his departure in the summer on a Bosman. When you add the revelation made this week that Arsene Wenger told him last summer he could leave, Wilshere's future is in serious doubt.

The Ramsey situation looks to be heading in the same direction as that of Mesut Ozil, who only signed a new contract as he headed into the final six months of his current one. The tactic worked well for the German, who became the highest-paid player in the club's history as he and his people took advantage of the fact Arsenal simply could not afford to let another star go after allowing Alexis Sanchez to join Manchester United.

The Welsh international is one of the players around whom the team needs to be rebuilt, a midfielder of presence and personality who contributes significantly in terms of goals and assists. Arsenal need to add quality to midfield, not lose it, but then the question of what Ramsey himself wants occurs.

Is he playing the long game to get the best possible deal, or is he at the point of his career where he feels like making a change and playing elsewhere, perhaps abroad? That could complicate matters, as do genuine concerns about his injury record.

Unlike Abou Diaby and Eduardo, who suffered similarly traumatic injuries, Ramsey appeared to recover without the same impairments as his colleagues, but over the years it's become clear there have been after-effects. It's hard not to consider the impact of the leg break as you see him endure a litany of muscular injuries ranging from minor to major.

When he stays fit, as he did in that brilliant 2013-14 season when he scored 16 goals, he showed what he's capable of, but when he's interrupted by injuries, when his seasons are stop-start and start-stop again, it's hard for him to find his best form.

Even so, this season he's contributed seven goals and eight assists from midfield in 24 appearances and it's the kind of production the Gunners don't get from any of their other midfielders.

For Arsenal though, it becomes a difficult situation as they try to future-proof their midfield. Can they afford, financially or otherwise, to commit lengthy new deals to two players who have such chequered histories with injury?

It might well be a case of one over the other, hence the decision to offer Wilshere a pay cut with a contract built around incentives for availability as they prepare to push the boat out for Ramsey to convince him to stay.

Whatever happens though, the future predicted by Fabregas for both was one which, like his move to Barcelona, didn't work out the way he thought it would.

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