Jack's 20m Christmas present: Wilshere agrees five-year deal to stay at Arsenal
22:39 GMT, 15 December 2012
Jack Wilshere will provide a huge boost to ailing Arsenal — and under-pressure manager Arsene Wenger — by signing a 20million, five-year contract in the next month.
And the 20-year-old England midfielder — the country’s brightest young talent — has vowed that the new generation of Arsenal players will bring the glory days back to a club who have now gone seven-and-a-half years without a trophy.
Wilshere, who expects very soon to agree terms on the new deal, including a starting salary of 80,000 a week and staged pay rises, has also revealed that he wants to captain the club one day, indicating his commitment to a long-term career at Arsenal.
Sign me up: Jack Wilshere will remain an Arsenal player after agreeing a bumper new deal
With 19-year-old winger Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain expected to follow suit soon by signing his own new deal, the news will cheer Arsenal after a dismal week in which they were knocked out of the Capital One Cup by League Two side Bradford City.
Wilshere said: ‘I’m talking to the club and I will probably be committing my future to them in the next couple of weeks. I know the team are going through a bad spell at the moment but that’s like any team. That’s not a problem for me nor is it a problem if the fans are booing us. We have to change that ourselves.’
His commitment is a significant coup for Arsenal after the recent departures of Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie, and with Theo Walcott’s future after next summer in doubt. But Wilshere believes that he has time on his side as Arsenal attempt to become title challengers again.
Ones for the future: Wilshere (centre) believes the current crop, which features Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (second left), and the experience of Per Mertesacker (second right) and Lukas Podolski (right) will challenge for the title in years to come
He said: ‘Over the past few years the top players have probably thought they don’t see a bright future at Arsenal but it’s different for them. They were a bit older than me. I’m 20. I’ve still got a long way to go in my career. Players like Robin are older and maybe he thought: “I haven’t got time any more”. We’ve got other young players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs. In the next three or four years they can become top players and we can challenge for everything.
‘With young players, there is an enthusiasm that you don’t get with older ones. It’s natural that you feel excited about the future. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not just going to happen. We will have to work hard. We’re not where we want to be yet.’
Wilshere’s aim is to stay at the club for the long term and he even hopes that one day he will be lifting trophies as Arsenal captain. ‘I’d like to captain the club one day,’ he said. ‘I’ve been here since I was nine and I know the traditions and have been in the first team since I was young. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying I’m ready now, but one day, maybe, I’d like to captain the club.’
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Despite the unprecedented scrutiny Arsenal’s manager has come under in the wake of the Capital One Cup exit, Wilshere remains confident that Wenger, whose contract ends in 2014, is the best man for the club. ‘Every year we’ve been in the Champions League and there’s no other manager has done that,’ he said.
‘He’s built a legacy at this club. He came in 16 years ago and he changed everything. He brought the passing game to Arsenal and he’s been great to me. He showed great faith in me when I was young and stuck with me after my injury. So, for me, there’s no question he’s the right man for the job.
‘When you have a few bad results I don’t think you can start blaming the manager. The players have to look at themselves. It’s not the manager’s fault.’
Wilshere, who was talking at an EA Sports FIFA 13 Ultimate Team event, has revealed Wenger has rebuked his players at times in frustration after recent poor performances.
‘He gets angry if we don’t perform and he’s entitled to if players are not pulling their weight.
In the eye of the storm: Wilshere is disconsolate after Arsenal's defeat at Bradford
‘The way we played at Bradford, the manager deserved to be angry and upset. We knew it was going to be a tough game. It’s difficult for the foreign players, especially in their first season, to come here and know what playing Bradford away is going to be like. Maybe you think Bradford away is going to be easy but, trust me, it’s not. It’s quicker and maybe even more intense than the Premier League. They get up to you and close you down and maybe the foreign players don’t understand that. But they’ll adapt and learn.’
He added that he understands why fans have booed the team, notably after the 2-0 home defeat against Swansea two weeks ago. ‘We understand the fans’ frustration,’ he said. ‘They’re paying their money and if we’re not performing, they boo. We shouldn’t be losing games at home with the team we’ve got. We were disappointing in the Swansea game and deserved to be booed.
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‘But our season’s not over. The Capital
One Cup was not one of our main targets. Obviously it’s nice to get a
trophy and we wanted to win it. It hurts a lot that we’re out but it’s
only December — there’s a long way to go and we’re still in the
Champions League and FA Cup. We’re a bit far behind in the Premier
League but football changes quickly. If we win three games and another
team lose a couple and draw one, we’re back in it.
‘We’re in the Champions League. That’s going to be difficult but we know we can beat anyone over two games. In the FA Cup we’ve got a hard game against Swansea but if we win that and a few big teams lose, then, in cup football, anything can happen.
‘With Chelsea last year, no one would have said at the stage they were at in December that they could win the Champions League. But they got a bit of luck and, with that in your favour, you never know what can happen in that competition.’
Wilshere concedes Arsenal’s seven-and-a-half year wait for a major trophy has placed an added burden on the team. ‘It’s something we have to change. It’s there and it just adds to the pressure,’ said Wilshere.
‘It’s too long for a club like Arsenal. We should be winning things. We used to in the past and there’s no reason we can’t in the future. We’ve got good players. Maybe there’s a mental block that we need to get over and, once we get our first trophy, then it will all start to happen for us.’