By Chris Harris
Jack Wilshere has found the perfect role model at Arsenal and his name is Cesc Fabregas.
The 18-year-old has emerged as a bonafide first-team player in the opening weeks of the season, making four starts already and earning plaudits for his tenacity as well as his talent. And Wilshere is learning his trade from a man who has trodden the same path as him.
Fabregas arrived at Arsenal as a precocious 16-year-old in September 2003 and became the Club's youngest player and scorer shortly afterwards. He is now a World Cup winner, the talisman of Arsène Wenger's team and Wilshere is happy to play the role of apprentice to the Spanish sorcerer.
"Watching Cesc when he was younger and the way he broke into the side, it's the perfect opportunity to learn from him," said Wilshere.
"He gives me advice around the training ground and on the pitch he tells me what to do. He explains that I'm not going to play every week and, like he did, break into the team slowly and then stay in.
"For me, in the position he plays, he's the best player in the world. People talk about Cesc and that's what I want to be like. He's a perfect player to learn from because he gets into space, it's easy to find him, he helps you through the game, he is always talking to you. He's a good leader as well as a good player.
"I think he looks at [my situation] knowing that he did the same as me. Hopefully I can just follow in his footsteps. To be as good as him would be nice."
Wilshere's natural ability has never been in doubt but he returned from a loan spell at Bolton last season a stronger, more savvy player. He made his England debut in the summer and is becoming a Premier League regular but the 18-year-old is keeping his feet on the ground - with a little help from his parents.
"There is expectation but I think it's important to just play your game and if people talk about you then people talk," he said.
"But at the moment I am just concentrating on Arsenal, on starting every week. My Mum and Dad come and watch me and they think I'm a good player but they keep me level-headed."Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source