Barcelona have reportedly selected a three-man list of midfielders deemed worthy of consideration for inheritance of their feted midfield from era-defining aces Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.
On that list, along with Ilkay Gundogan of Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid’s Koke, is Jack Wilshere.
The England international has notched in his last two league games for the Gunners and is 9/2 to continue his fine run by scoring at Crystal Palace.
Barcelona have signed seven Arsenal players for in excess of £102m since the turn of the century.
Marc Overmars, Emmanuel Petit, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Thierry Henry, Alexander Hleb, Cesc Fabregas and Alex Song have all departed north London in return for a skip full of cash since 2000.
Arsenal’s history of doing business with the Catalans will have fans feeling uneasy, but it’s worth remembering that the majority of players that made the move did so either by agitating for it or with the club and the fans’ blessing, whereas Wilshere has yet to show any inclination to leave the Emirates.
Xavi played consecutive games for Barca just twice after February 3rd last season.
At 33 he is the elder statesman of the distinguished duo and as such the more pressing concern in terms of finding a replacement, with Iniesta four years his junior.
Of the pair Wilshere has arguably showed more of a positional affinity with the former in his career to date and his natural position is slightly deeper than the role the younger man plays at Camp Nou.
Yet the Gunners star’s liking for direct forward movement with the ball at his feet arguably echoes the predilections of Iniesta, making him a particularly alluring prospect for Gerardo Martino.
Both Gundogan and Koke rate more likely signings than the Englishman.
The fact that Barca are reportedly keen to bring in reinforcements in January would make prospects of a deal for Wilshere remote.
Arsenal would be extremely unlikely to countenance any kind of deal for their academy product in the winter window, particularly if their strong start to the season has continued.
Conversely Koke’s contract at Atletico has a release clause of £16m, which is likely to be far less than it would cost to procure Wilshere’s talents.
Meanwhile Gundogan is stalling over a new deal at Signal Iduna Park with his current contract due to expire in 2015 and it’s possible that his current employers could choose to cash in now rather than lose him for a bargain fee further down the line.