Arsenal Transfer News: Latest Rumours on Jack Wilshere's Future

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistSeptember 29, 2017

BATE Borisov's midfielder from Montenegro Mirko Ivanic (L) and Arsenal's midfielder from England Jack Wilshere vie for the ball during the UEFA Europa League Group H football match between FC BATE Borisov and Arsenal FC in Borisov, outside Minsk, on September 28, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Maxim MALINOVSKY        (Photo credit should read MAXIM MALINOVSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
MAXIM MALINOVSKY/Getty Images

Jack Wilshere reportedly wants to stay at Arsenal after his contract expires at the end of the season. The midfielder has recently returned to the first-team fold with the Gunners and cited a positive relationship with manager Arsene Wenger as one reason why he wants to extend his time with the club.

Wilshere was the star of the show as a refreshed Arsenal starting XI beat BATE Borisov 4-2 in a UEFA Europa League Group H match on Thursday. The creative ace spoke afterwards about his desire to prolong his career with the Gunners, per Amy Lawrence of the Guardian:

"Do I see myself staying? Of course I do. I have always been at Arsenal, I love this club. They have been good to me over the years, I have a great relationship with the boss. He has played me since I was 17. He has put his trust in me since then. We have a great understanding and of course I want to stay."

Wilshere's reference to Wenger's faith in him is telling since the Frenchman has stayed patient with a player beset by injuries since the 2011 preseason. Ongoing ankle problems have meant Wilshere has barely played for Arsenal the last six years, but his manager remains an ardent admirer of his abilities.

Speaking after the win in Borisov, Wenger talked up Wilshere's talent and application, per Sky Sports:

"He fights until the end. He's on his way back to his best and showed that. He's at an age where a player normally gets to the best of his career. He's on the way up. He's only been stopped by a series of injuries.

Hopefully, I just pray, he is not hampered by any more problems and that will see him getting stronger and stronger. He's shown again that he's not lost his football."

It's little wonder Wenger prays Wilshere will stay fit. The classy No. 10 embodies all of the technical qualities Wenger preaches.

Wilshere has hailed Wenger's influence.
Wilshere has hailed Wenger's influence.Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Wilshere's game is based on intelligence, intuition, creativity and flair. All of those attributes were on display against BATE.

The 25-year-old ran the show as he threaded passes through defensive gaps and drifted effortlessly between the midfield and forward lines. Wilshere slid a pass into the path of Theo Walcott at the end of a slick, one- and two-touch move inside the opening 10 minutes.

Seconds later, he teed up Walcott to score Arsenal's first after a deft touch and nifty change of pace in the box. Those were just the standout moments of an altogether assured and stylish display from the gifted playmaker.

Wilshere has often struggled to find the right home for those particular skills when he's been fit enough to play. Part of the problem has been a misconception about how the pocket-edition schemer should be used.

Wilshere has thrived in a role further forward this season.
Wilshere has thrived in a role further forward this season.TF-Images/Getty Images

He is not a passing metronome who will dictate possession on the halfway line. Nor is he suited to a role as a deep-lying playmaker, the way Roy Hodgson tried to use him for the England national team.

Instead, Wilshere is a forward-thinking and artful attacking midfielder, plain and simple.

He revealed how he was afforded the freedom to play his best position against BATE, per Lawrence: "I was playing a different position, coming off the line to link with Theo and Olivier [Giroud], and especially in the first half it worked really well. I wasn't playing as an out-and-out 10, I was on the wing and the boss told me to come into the pocket and pick it up."

It was similar to the role Wilshere played for the Gunners during the 2013/14 campaign, arguably his best season. Wilshere had started on the right of a midfield five but with a free role to ghost into pockets of space behind the strikers. The results were five goals and four assists, per WhoScored.com.

Santi Cazorla's injury problems have increased Wilshere's importance.
Santi Cazorla's injury problems have increased Wilshere's importance.Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press/Associated Press

However, Wilshere should expect to be used in a variety of positions this season if he's going to become a first-team regular again. Wenger's squad needs a lot of help in midfield, as Francis Coquelin, Santi Cazorla and Alex Iwobi are injured, while contract rebel Mesut Ozil has been in and out of the team.

Cazorla is the player Wilshere most closely resembles, thanks to his ability to dribble past defenders and pick out a pass. With the Spaniard set to be out until after Christmas, according to Wenger, per Jack Staplehurst of the Daily Star, Wilshere will be needed a lot this season.

Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny are the only senior central midfielders regularly available for Wenger.

Even so, Wilshere has said he's just glad to be back at Arsenal, following a loan spell with Bournemouth last season, per Lawrence: "I felt good coming back to Arsenal and into training, and the boss has been good. He has been speaking to me, been patient, and I feel good and enjoy working with these top players again."

Wenger still believes in Wilshere's talent.
Wenger still believes in Wilshere's talent.Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

That reference to Wenger shows how much the manager is determined to make sure Wilshere still reaches his immense potential. Yet the Gunners boss was coy when asked if negotiations over a new contract for the midfielder were taking place, simply replying "not tonight" when asked after Thursday's win, per Metro's Mark Brus.

The need to secure Wilshere's future has become greater for Wenger with Ozil and Alexis Sanchez also out of contract next summer, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain joined Premier League rivals Liverpool in August.

Wilshere can still be the young English talent Wenger builds a team around, provided he stays fit, plays the right position and agrees a new contract. So far the signs are good at least two of those things will happen.

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