Football: Former Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere signs 3-year West Ham deal

Jack Wilshere, who joined Arsenal at the age of nine, exited the Emirates Stadium this summer.
Jack Wilshere, who joined Arsenal at the age of nine, exited the Emirates Stadium this summer.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (THE GUARDIAN) - Jack Wilshere signed for West Ham on Monday (July 9) on a three-year contract after departing Arsenal as a free agent following 17 years at the club.

The 26-year-old midfielder, who has won 34 caps for England, becomes Manuel Pellegrini's fourth summer signing following the arrivals of Issa Diop, Ryan Fredericks and Lukasz Fabianski.

Wilshere, who supported West Ham as a boy, will now fly out to Switzerland to join his new team-mates on their pre-season training camp in Bad Ragaz.

His first game on home soil could be as early as Saturday in a friendly against Wycombe Wanderers.

"It feels good and of course, my family and a few of my friends are West Ham fans so everyone's buzzing," Wilshere, whose brother and father are also supporters of his new club, said.

"People will have seen the picture of me in a West Ham shirt and I've got good memories of my childhood supporting West Ham, watching them at Upton Park."

West Ham's new director of football, Mario Husillos, added: "Manuel and I identified him as a target as soon as we joined the club and we are delighted to have succeeded in securing Jack's signature above a number of other teams. On the biggest stage, he has shown that he has game-changing abilities, as well as having the creativity and intelligence to make a real difference to our squad."

Wilshere, who joined Arsenal at the age of nine, exited the Emirates Stadium this summer after talks with manager Unai Emery left him adamant that his "playing time would be significantly reduced".

He rose through the ranks to make his first-team debut at Blackburn Rovers in September 2008 when he was 16.

Since then, he has featured for England at the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, and also spent time on loan at Bournemouth during the 2016-17 season to build fitness away from Arsenal after a long-term struggle with injuries.

Wilshere made 197 appearances for the Gunners, 38 of which came last season - his best total since the 2013-14 term - and said it was always his intention, until contractual discussions with Emery, to remain an Arsenal player.