Arsene Wenger insists he will offer Jack Wilshere a new deal at Arsenal because he believes he still has a future at the club - not because the England man can be sold for a profit.
The 24-year-old asked to leave on a temporary basis in the summer when it became clear he would not be a regular in Wenger’s first team despite returning to fitness after missing the majority of the previous two years through injury.
Bournemouth ended up taking him to the Vitality Stadium and the Cherries visit Arsenal tomorrow with Premier League rules stipulating Wilshere will not be allowed to play against his parent club, having played in the last seven games for Eddie Howe’s side.
The Frenchman revealed yesterday he will push for an extension to Wilshere’s contract in the new year, with his current agreement set to expire in 2018, because he reckons the player will be back for next season, rather than to protect Arsenal’s investment in one of their most successful academy graduates.
Asked if he would be offering the extension because he believes in Wilshere’s ability to establish himself with the Gunners, Wenger replied: “Yes, not to protect our value.
“I let him go this season because we bought Granit Xhaka, we have Mohamed Elneny, Aaron Ramsey, and I thought if he doesn’t play regularly and wasn’t fit enough to be in the position to start games...so I let him go. After, we see how he goes at the end of the season. If Jack comes back to his right level, he will play for us.
When questioned why Wilshere was not handed a longer deal before his temporary move to Bournemouth, Wenger added: “It was a human case, more than a calculated financial case.”
Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe accepts not being able to play Wilshere tomorrow will be a “big miss” but is confident his players can still produce a positive result.
“When I look back at the last game against Stoke, he was excellent for us and was the key link between midfield and attack.
“Also his defensive displays for me have been superb and are undervalued, how good he is without the ball, how clever he is with the positions he takes up to protect our midfield. He is going to be a big miss in both disciplines, with and without the ball this week.”
While Wilshere was concerned about the number of midfielders in front of him in the pecking order, Wenger has been having to make do without the influential Santi Cazorla.
The Spain international injured his Achilles in the 6-0 win over Ludogorets last month and there is still no date set on his return.
“He’s important to our technical stability in the team, to the quality of our decision making and to our build-up from deep midfield to the high midfield,” Wenger said of Cazorla.
With Cazorla sidelined, Wenger has played Francis Coquelin with Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny and Aaron Ramsey in the last three games.
Some Arsenal fans have been perplexed by the lack of opportunities handed to Xhaka, who signed for over £30million in the summer.
The 24-year-old Switzerland international has started just five Premier League games but Wenger insists he is pleased with the progression of the former Borussia Monchengladbach man.
“I’m very happy with his commitment,” he said.
“I think he’s developing well. He hasn’t maybe started enough since the start of the season but he is adapting to a different league."
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