Saturday 23 September 2017

British core a key factor in Wenger's master plan

Wenger: “First of all, we need to keep the good players. After, if they have the culture of the club, it is a priority as well, but first it is good players with good mentality.
Wenger: “First of all, we need to keep the good players. After, if they have the culture of the club, it is a priority as well, but first it is good players with good mentality." Photo credit: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Jeremy Wilson

Arsene Wenger is adamant that a British core remains integral to his Arsenal vision and he intends to offer new contracts to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs this summer.

All three are out of contract next year and have often struggled for regular first-team football, but having deliberately built around a group of domestic players that also includes Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey, Wenger says Arsenal should persist with this nucleus.

A photo of Wilshere, Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain all signing new contracts in December 2012 became symbolic of the new era that Wenger hoped to create, but there has been varying disappointment at the rate of their progress.

Ramsey's contract expires in 2019 and a renegotiation is also likely this year.

Faith

Asked if he wanted to preserve his British core, Wenger said: "Yes, we still have a group of young players, but we have to keep them all. We have Ramsey, Chamberlain, Wilshere, Gibbs. All these players, we have to make decisions and manage to keep them together."

Such a strong statement of faith in players who have yet to fully deliver is likely to surprise many fans.

There was a particularly strong endorsement of Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has become uncertain whether he wants to stay and has been linked with both Liverpool and Manchester City.

"I think it is vital that Chamberlain stays at Arsenal," said Wenger.

"We bought him when he was very young and we have built him up. I like his mentality and he has a good football brain. It would be a big damage for us to lose this kind of player.

"In an inflationary market, we have to consider the situation as a whole. We have to dedicate the money for everybody.

"First of all, we need to keep the good players. After, if they have the culture of the club, it is a priority as well, but first it is good players with good mentality.

"Mohamed Elneny behaves really top class, like he has played here 10 years, so you have to consider that as well."

Having repeatedly said that there is no rush on the contracts of players like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, whose deals expire in 2018, Wenger agreed that he could not let players get into the final year of their contracts.

"No, but we will be done this year," he said. © Daily Telegraph, London.

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