How Jack Wilshere Compares To Barcelona B Players Nine Years On
Arsenal surprised Barcelona with a 2-1 win on 16 February 2011, inspired by a 19-year-old Jack Wilshere - but the praise for his performance drew a stinging response from Pep Guardiola.
In the fallout from his side's Champions League first-leg defeat, the Barca manager was asked about the teenager's display and Guardiola claimed he had a reserve team absolutely full of players as good as the Englishman.
"Wilshere is a top player," said Guardiola. "He is an excellent player, not just Arsenal, but also for the national team. [But] he is lucky because we have many players in the second team like him but he plays because there is no pressure at his club to win titles."
Ouch. Yet nearly a decade on, it looks like the Spaniard might have had a point, with Wilshere's injury-ravaged career not going nearly as well as some of those who starred in the Barca B team.
In the 2010/11 season, Barcelona B were stacked in midfield, boasting Sergi Roberto, Rafinha, Jonathan dos Santos and Oriol Romeu.
Roberto's club career is streets ahead of Wilshere's. While the now West Ham midfielder has struggled for game time due to injuries and a lack of form, Roberto has become a first-team regular at Camp Nou, though he plays regularly at right-back.
He's been part of six La Liga winning sides, lifted the Champions League twice and scored the winner in that memorable 6-1 destruction of PSG, ensuring his place as a Barcelona cult hero. Wilshere won two FA Cups during his time in north London, plus a Community Shield.
He does have 34 international caps to Roberto's seven for Spain, but none of those have come in the past four years and only 14 of those have come since the 2014 World Cup.
Another midfielder from that Barca B-side, Rafinha, hasn't had the career he once looked destined for. The Brazilian, brother of fellow La Masia graduate Thiago, has appeared only 90 times in eight years for Barcelona's first team and is currently on loan to Celta Vigo for the second time.
More Like ThisMore Like This
Yet his trophy collection still dwarves that of Wilshere, with multiple Liga titles, a Champions League win, plus an Olympic gold medal with Brazil.
While Roberto and Rafinha remained at Camp Nou, Dos Santos has moved on. He hung around to win three league titles with Barca, moved to Villarreal and is now playing for LA Galaxy.
Defensive midfielder Romeu, meanwhile, has become a familiar Premier League face with stints at Chelsea and current club Southampton. Neither he nor Dos Santos have the range of gifts Wilshere has - but both have been valued, first-choice regulars for their clubs for the past five years. Can Wilshere claim that?
Away from the midfield, Gerard Deulofeu, Marc Bartra, Marc Muniesa, Cristian Tello and Martin Montoya are also 2010/11 B-team graduates who have gone on to have good careers.
Deulofeu even returned to Barcelona, after spells at Everton and AC Milan, and the Spain international is probably in the best run of his career at Watford.
Still only 25, the winger is key to Nigel Pearson's team staying up this season and would certainly have the pick of sides to move to if they went down.
Another winger, Tello, and defender Bartra both broke into the Barcelona first team for several seasons, contributed to a few major trophies, left Spain, then returned to play for Real Betis. Their careers may not have taken off as some hoped but they are first-team Liga regulars in 2020.
As for Wilshere, he is once again struck down by injury, this time to the pelvis. Having missed seven months of the last campaign, he's played just eight times this season, and not at all since October.
At 28, there's still hope for the former Bournemouth loanee. But the fact remains that Guardiola seems to have been right about his famous claim of nine years ago, made before his side won the second leg 3-1 to send Arsenal out of Europe.
The worst thing about his words is none of the players in Barcelona's B team of 2010/11 have gone on to be world-beaters. It's just that everyone expected Wilshere to be exactly that - and he's fallen so far short of expectations.
Chosen for YouChosen for You
Most Read StoriesMost Read