EXCLUSIVE: Wilshere opens talks with Arsenal over bumper new deal as Wenger prepares to anoint captain Jack
22:45 GMT, 26 November 2012
Jack Wilshere is on course for a bumper new contract as Arsene Wenger starts preparing the midfielder for the Arsenal captaincy.
Sportsmail understands preliminary discussions regarding a deal extension, which will see the 20-year-old net a significant increase on his 50,000-a-week deal, have taken place.
The England star still has two-and-a-half years left to run on that contract but the Arsenal hierarchy are understandably eager to extend it. They do not want any uncertainty over Wilshere’s future.
Perfect 10: Jack Wilshere was honoured by the famous shirt in the summer
Germany forward Lukas Podolski is understood to be the club’s top earner on 90,000 a week but, while Wilshere’s next offer is unlikely to be on that scale, the pay increase will make him one of the Gunners’ best-paid players.
Wilshere has enjoyed a morale-boosting month after his injury nightmare.
Having missed the whole of last season with ankle, foot and knee problems, he has made a successful return to club football and an instant return to the international game after his call-up to the England squad for the friendly against Sweden two weeks ago.
The midfielder will be buoyed further by Wenger’s plan to make him Arsenal’s next captain. The manager has privately identified him as the long-term successor to skipper Thomas Vermaelen.
Wearing the armband: Thomas Vermaelen (centre) is Arsenal's current skipper
The Belgium defender is under no immediate danger of losing the armband to Wilshere but a plan is in place to promote the talented playmaker within the next two-and-a-half years.
Having come through the club’s academy system, Wilshere has a deep emotional attachment to Arsenal and Wenger likes that. The manager took a similar decision when he made Cesc Fabregas club captain at the age of 21, while Gunners legend Tony Adams’ 14-year stint as skipper started at the same age.
Wenger hopes the lure of the armband will persuade Wilshere, who was given the club’s famed No 10 shirt in the summer, that his long-term future lies at the Emirates Stadium.