Did Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere move to Barcelona last summer?
Plausible deniability: my friend and yours. When the police came over to ask about what had happened to the neighbour’s shed, it was all well and good because there was no way at all that you could have known what Steve had meant by “teaching those wankers a lesson.” You’d told him not to tell you any more. There was nothing to be done when Steve burned their house down either – it was simply not something that you were involved in, even if he had actually said “torching those wankers a lesson,” as you later remembered.
When Arsene Wenger denies that Jack Wilshere was sold to Barcelona at the end of August, then, we know what he means. He means that for all he has allowed himself to know, Wilshere is still a member of his squad, training at the training ground every day, eating at the canteen. The only reason he isn’t playing in any of Arsenal’s middling performances against middling teams is that he is out injured, indefinitely, with a variety of injuries, which can’t always be named.
The truth of course is that Wilshere travelled to Barcelona on the same plane as Cesc Fabregas in the summer and that his Twitter personality is a fake designed to throw fans off the scent of the move – a fake played by Wenger himself, or so the rumour goes. Wilshere has been playing for Barcelona all season – we’ve all known it on some level or another.
The lie had to be constructed. If bittersweet summer goodbyes to Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas ruined Arsenal fans’ holidays, losing the great youth team hope after so many years of build-up would rightly have created even more serious dissatisfaction amongst the club’s booboys/fans. There have been so many guesses at which will be the final, devastating blow to Wenger’s Arsenal, but this, surely, would be the one: Arsenal, not capable of holding onto a player they have nurtured for years after just one impressive season in the first team. It couldn’t be allowed to happen.
Well, it did happen, because of a bet. Wilshere didn’t want to leave the club – saying something about not liking foreign places that weren’t London. The club even had enough money to say no to Barcelona’s offers. But Wenger’s now infamous gambling addiction, which has seen him lose so many players now – Henry, Vieira, Anelka (why else would he have sold him?) – did the trick. The story goes that Wenger staked his entire first team on beating Barcelona in the Champions League last year – luckily, Pep Guardiola didn’t fancy any of Laurent Koscielny, Lukas Fabianski or Theo Walcott now with added tattoo. He just had Fabregas and Wilshere.
And so the cover-up began. It wasn’t hard. “Football fans are thick – they believe what they want to believe,” a club source told us yesterday. “Tell them, over the course of six months, that their star player is injured, even when all other signs point to him playing and living in Barcelona, and they’ll believe it. You don’t even have to come up with the name of the injury.”
As for how long this lie could go on for, the club is yet undecided: “Well, we could basically keep this up for as long as we possibly want to, because they are really, really thick, but maybe eventually we’ll get someone else decent in and tell them then.” There isn’t any guilt about what’s going on either: “Look, if they’re genuinely prepared to believe that Wilshere is still at Arsenal – if that’s what makes them happy – then why unsettle them? These people are already booing their own team every week – imagine if they knew half of what was going on around them was a lie,” we were told.
This is particularly easy to maintain at Arsenal, of course: a club whose most public figure is the king of plausible deniability – the man who never “sees it”. But it is going on elsewhere too. Wayne Rooney returned this season with “new hair” – yeah, sure he did, it wasn’t just a player who looked quite similar to him, then? No coincidence that he fancied a move and then came back looking a different man and playing like a horse? Nah. And Fernando Torres – Spain’s star forward – definitely signed for Chelsea, didn’t he? Definitely just a coincidence that he also had very different hair and then couldn’t score? Yeah, right.
It’s time that football fans opened their eyes and saw the world around them: a world where, in truth, they probably couldn’t name five players still in their teams’ squad. This is definitely fact because I said it and I don’t lie, even on weekends.
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