Tom Cleverley began as part of Bradford's youth set-up after growing up in West Yorkshire. He joined Manchester United as a trainee in 2000, developing there before representing the under-18's in the 2005/2006 season. In January 2009, Cleverley went on loan to Leicester, however this loan spell was ended early as he suffered a serious shoulder injury that would require surgery. In August of the same year, he bounced back with a loan spell at Watford where he scored on his debut. Cleverley enjoyed success in this loan spell and happened to extend it into 2010, although again it was one cut short through injury. He did however, receive the player of the season award. After returning to United, Cleverley then came across a third loan deal, this time it would take him to Wigan where he was one of their standout players in the season. After his succession of loan spells, Cleverley would finally progress into United's first team, emerging as one of the top talents around in his position and being rated very highly by Ferguson. He made his full debut for the National team on 15th August 2012 in a friendly against Italy and has since accumulated a total of 7 caps for his country.
Wilshere's young career was not so full of loan spells, experiencing just the one at Bolton Wanderers where he impressed many and made a name for himself. Before this he only featured in Arsenal friendlies and a rare first team game. He became Arsenal's youngest ever debutant at the age of 16 however his appearances were rather scattered. It took until the season of 2010/2011 for Wilshere to really breakthrough into the Arsenal team properly, when he made 35 league appearances, grabbing 1 goal and 3 assists, whilst at the same time developing into one of the hottest prospects around. He was called up to the senior National squad in 2010 and made his debut against Hungary. However, his progress would be halted by an awful injury and he would face 14 months on the sideline, not ideal for anyone but especially not for a youngster just coming through. Similarly to Cleverley, Wilshere has now accrued 7 caps for his country at the time of writing.
If you take a look at how the two have performed this season:
Despite this being Wilshere's comeback season and the first few of his appearances being short in duration, he seems to come out on top in these stats. Cleverley just betters him slightly in terms of pass accuracy and goals, everywhere else Wilshere dominates. However in Cleverley's defence, he is playing at Manchester United and rarely does he get a full 90 minutes and understandably so with the talented midfield they have. United have strength in depth in their squad and this means Ferguson does a lot of rotating meaning Cleverley isn't a regular every week.
I feel that it is difficult to compare the players, solely based on stats as whilst they're both central midfielders, they're different types of players. Cleverley is a creative midfielder with a touch of magic in his boots, whereas Wilshere is your tough tackling, box to box midfielder who drives his team forward with the ball. However, this season, I feel that Wilshere has been playing with a little more freedom and has been able to receive the ball higher up the pitch. This is reflected in his chances created stat in which he surprisingly beats Cleverley.
In conclusion, I would say that both players are incredibly talented and have very bright futures ahead of them, however I think Wilshere just nicks it. Wilshere is just 21 and has 2 years on Cleverley and with his 14 months out, I find it staggering how he is already competing at the level he is. Don't get me wrong, both are excellent players, I just feel that Wilshere has the talent to become a world class player, whereas Cleverley will become one of the top midfielders in the League, however this is all just my opinion. One thing that is for sure, the combination of both for England will definitely be a partnership to be feared in the future, hopefully building the core of a great team.
Who do you think is the better player? Tell us in the comments section below!
Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed it!