Arsenal have provided their supporters with an early Christmas present. The Gunners signed five young stars, including Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere, to new long-term contracts, according to the club's official site.
Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson and Aaron Ramsey are the other rising stars who inked new deals on Wednesday. All five players have international experience, and locking them up was key for Arsenal's future.
As a part of the announcement, longtime Gunners manager Arsene Wenger raved about the importance of keeping the club's core youth together. The club has watched several star players walk out the door in recent seasons, and this is a step to prevent mass exoduses in the future.
Gibbs, Jenkinson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey and Wilshere represent a core of the squad and it’s an extension for a long period for all of them. I’m a strong believer in stability and I believe when you have a core of British players, it’s always easier to keep them together and that’s what we’ll try to achieve going forward.
Oxlade-Chamberlain rose to prominence during his time with Southampton before moving to Arsenal last summer. The 19-year-old winger has already started to make major strides in his second season with the Gunners.
His combination of pace and finishing ability figure to make him a key piece of the club's attack once he gains more Premier League and European experience.
Wilshere returned from an extended injury absence in late October and has made 10 appearances for the Gunners since, scoring a Champions League goal against Montpellier.
At 20, his vision and passing ability make him a prototypical midfielder who the Gunners hope will be a major part of the squad for many years to come. The fact he's been able to stay healthy after so many injury setbacks while he was out is a great sign.
One notable absence from the list is Theo Walcott. Jeremy Wilson of the Guardian reports contract talks with one of club's most dynamic players have picked up recently, but not enough for him to join the five players who signed new deals today.
Even though a Walcott deal wasn't reached, it's still a successful day at Emirates.