Jack Wilshere has claimed that Arsenal could have won the Premier League had they not sold three key players during his time with the club.
Wilshere emerged from the Arsenal academy to become an important member of their first team, before injuries derailed his career.
The former England international, still only 28, left Arsenal in 2018 to join West Ham United, departing the Emirates Stadium with two FA Cup winner’s medals and one for the Community Shield.
However, Wilshere believes that he could have won more honours with the club if they had managed to keep hold of three players – Robin Van Persie in particular.
“I was devastated,” he told the BBC‘s 606 Savage Social podcast about the striker’s departure to Manchester United. “He had just scored 30 goals the season before. He was our captain.
“It felt like we were just about to challenge [for the title] again and all of a sudden he left to go to our biggest rivals. It was difficult to take.
“I was there when [Cesc] Fabregas left, [Samir] Nasri left, big players. If we had kept that team together I think we would have gone on to win the Premier League – and who knows from there?”
Wilshere then reflected on his departure from Arsenal – having recently discussed Unai Emery’s role in facilitating it – and admitted that Arsene Wenger’s exit as manager played a big part in his decision.
“I sat down with my family and my wife,” Wilshere added. “Arsene had announced he was leaving, and it felt like the right time to move on.
“I had done it before [joining Bournemouth on loan]. I knew there was life outside of Arsenal. I just thought it was the right time to move on. Times were changing at Arsenal.
“I spoke with the new manager who said: ‘You can stay but you are not in my starting XI.’
“Arsene knew what I could do and trusted me. I knew if I got fit, I would play and I didn’t get that vibe off Emery. It was tough.”
The move to West Ham has not necessarily paid off for the midfielder, with injuries coming back to haunt him again. However, he insists that he does not regret making the move to his boyhood club.
“No regrets. I have been a West Ham fan so it was a dream come true when I signed,” he said.
“It didn’t work out in the first year. I had a few differences with the manager [Manuel Pellegrini].
“I thought I had finally put them aside but then I went through the same thing again. There was a lack of communication and he didn’t listen to what I was trying to say.
“I was quite low. I picked up a groin injury and had to manage my training load but the old manager was like ‘if you don’t do training, you don’t play’.
“The point Moysey [David Moyes] came in was good for me, it was a lift. Now I feel good and hopefully when or if the season starts again, I will be ready to go.”