World Football - Paper Round: Wilshere's world beaters

It might have been a meaningless winter friendly against a side ranked just 18th in the world, but as far as Thursday's papers are concerned England's 2-1 win over Brazil has made them world beaters.

The man at the heart of the praise? Jack Wilshere - and the old pros writing in their Thursday morning columns believe he is England's new Gazza.

"Jack Wilshere wore Paul Gascoigne’s old No 8 shirt and showed signs he could be England’s next midfield genius," writes Jamie Redknapp in the Daily Mail.

"There is nobody better at a quick one-two: he cuts through the midfield and is into the opposition back four. The weight of the pass that brought England’s opener was quality."

Tony Cascarino in The Times is equally purple in his praise: "The highlight last night, for me, was seeing Wilshere deliver the sort of performance that lights up a stadium.

"Wilshere is the first England midfield player since Gazza in the 1990s to use his strength to burst through the middle, get his body in front of people and force the opponent to commit to the tackle. Once Wilshere has drawn the tackle, he then finds the pass... He is almost the finished article, but what he needs to add to his game is the ability to score from midfield."

Cascarino also singles out Ashley Cole for a fine display on his 100th cap:

"I can’t argue too hard against those who believe that Cole is the best left-back in the world. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of mediocre performances he has had for club and country — he never has a bad game."

The Sun's Shaun Custis was effusive in his praise of Wilshere: "There is no getting away from it. Jack Wilshere is the key to England’s future. Boss Roy Hodgson said before the game that he did not want the Arsenal ace to be hailed as the saviour of the national team. He believed there was too much expectation on Wilshere.

"But, after his performance against the Samba boys, Hodgson accepted he was wasting his time protecting his own boy wonder. The truth is that with the young midfielder, England can compete with the BEST. Without him, they cannot."

The Daily Telegraph's Paul Hayward also singles out Wilshere as the one England player among the new generation - one containing Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Theo Walcott - who is already fulfilling his promise: "Wilshere is the one young English midfielder who would look comfortable in the same paragraph (and perhaps eventually the same sentence) as Spain’s Xavi."

The Sun's Steven Howard praises the team effort - and in particular the approach that Roy Hodgson has brought to the side: "At times, it really was just like watching Brazil. But these were the guys with the three lions on their chest. The ones who normally can’t trap a bag of cement. The ones who leave one-touch football to the more sophisticated Continentals. And yet here they were at Wembley looking more South American than the South Americans."

He goes on to strike a note of caution about the nature of friendlies, however:

"In recent years they have beaten Germany in Berlin, Spain at Wembley and Italy in Berne just after the Euros. Last night they almost out- Braziled Brazil. When it comes to friendlies, we’re world champs. But put England into a competitive fixture and their heads tend to turn to jelly.

"But that’s the way it’s been for as long as we can remember. You just never know with our mob. Last night, though, it looked pretty good. And we haven’t been able to say that for some time."

The Daily Mirror's Oliver Holt concentrates on how Brazil did - or rather how well they didn't do: "It would be absurd to think that they will not improve on this very quickly. And yes, they will be a different proposition when England play them in Rio de Janeiro in June. But the heirs of Ronaldo? They looked more like the heirs of Garry Birtles."

Not all the papers get carried away by the football, though: the Daily Star's front page concentrates on a rather different story, about David Beckham being asked a few saucy questions by fans during a Twitter webchat. Obviously, that thin story is the perfect chance to go with a nearly-naked pic of the PSG star on the front page along with a disturbingly misleading headline:

Moving on to other gossip, and West Brom's Peter Odemwingie - who briefly became the country's most famous footballer after his disastrous attempt to force a move on transfer deadline day - is in line for a loan move to Crystal Palace, the Telegraph reports.

The same paper reports that Manchester United will face a battle with Bayern Munich and Real Madrid as they try to sign Polish striker Robert Lewandowski from Borussia Dortmund.

The Daily Mail reports that Zenit St Petersburg want to bring Martin Skrtel back from Liverpool - a move that could happen imminently as the Russian transfer window remains open for another few weeks - while the Mirror claims there is already a "new Neymar": namely, Santos' 19-year-old Neilton, who has a £5m buy-out clause that has got Chelsea interested.

And finally, less than a week after insisting that he will not leave Anfield, the Daily Mirror reports comments from Luis Suarez saying that he will leave if Liverpool fail to earn a place in the Champions League this season.

"We will see at the end of the season what Liverpool's position is - we're not the Liverpool of old," the Uruguayan said, adding that he will think about his future in June. Those comments are enough for the paper to go with "Suarez: Top four or else" as its headline.