What Barcelona stars said of Jack Wilshere’s world-beater display 10 years ago
Barcelona players were full of praise for Arsenal star Jack Wilshere 10 years ago – when he put in a world-beating display against Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and co.
The Gunners were faced with the daunting task of hosting the Spanish giants in their 2010/11 Champions League round-of-16 opener on 16 February 2011.
But it marked an occasion where the 19-year-old Englishman stepped to put in perhaps the best performance of his career.
Having gone 1-0 down in the first half to a David Villa strike, Wilshere led the charge on Pep Guardiola’s side with some incredible skills and accelerations.
This led to Robin van Persie getting an equaliser with 12 minutes to go before Andrey Arshavin buried into the bottom-right corner for a 2-1 win.
While Barcelona did go on to win 3-1 at the Nou Camp and eventually take the Champions League against Manchester United, Wilshere’s performance did stick in the minds of some.
Before the second leg win at the Nou Camp, Guardiola managed to praise Wilshere while simultaneously taking a dig at his comparison to the same players the 19-year-old saw off at the Emirates.
He said in the pre-match press conference: “Wilshere is a top player.
“He has been a big surprise. I did not know him at the beginning of the season, but he is an excellent player for Arsenal but also for the national team.
“We have many players like him in our second team. It is very good news for football to have players like him.”
But right-back Dani Alves urged Barcelona to sign Wilshere two years later – despite the Englishman’s injury plights.
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The Brazilian said: “He is a great player who we have met playing against Arsenal and without doubt he can reach the height of the players we have here at Barcelona like Xavi and Iniesta.
“He has a lot of quality and a great personality. If I was given the chance to choose, he is a player that I would sign for Barcelona.”
But Xavi – known for his title-winning partnership with Iniesta in Barca and Spain’s midfields – was particularly blown away.
He told the Mirror in 2015: “If he had a career that had been injury-free we would already be talking about him as one of the top central midfield players in Europe.
“I have played against him, I have watched him carefully, and if he can overcome injuries, then he can still go on an be one of the best midfield players in the world.
“With all respect, he doesn’t play the English way.
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Wilshere, though, has a different take on that famous night in north London.
Hosting a Twitter Q&A last month, the midfielder was asked by a fan: “The game against Barcelona in 2011 at the Emirates, who did you learnt the most off? Iniesta, Xavi, Busquets etc.”
And he cheekily replied: “Couldn’t learn much – they all spent the night in my pocket!”
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