Wenger to fight off City's £30m Wilshere bid
Arsenal are confident they will not be backed into a corner over the future of Manchester City target Jack Wilshere.
City are willing to offer Wilshere up to £150,000 a week to move to Eastlands this summer, but Arsenal do not feel they have to match that offer to keep him.
Wilshere has emerged as a summer target of City, despite insistence from Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger and inside the Emirates that the England international is not for sale.
Arsenal know that City are interested in Wilshere and that he could earn a big pay rise by agreeing to move. But, while there could be talks over a new contract, Arsenal are not concerned about being pushed into handing the 23-year-old a huge rise to his £90,000-a-week wages.
Wilshere has three years remaining on his Arsenal deal, which club chiefs believe ensures they will not have to cash in on him or make him their highest-paid player. Record signing Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez both earn £140,000 a week and would no doubt want pay rises if Wilshere were handed a bigger salary than them.
City hope a bid of around £30m may tempt Wenger into altering his stance.
Arsenal have prioritised a defensive midfielder among their summer transfer targets, with Ilkay Gundogan and Morgan Schneiderlin among the players they are interested in. Mathieu Flamini is poised to leave, while Mikel Arteta has been warned he will no longer be a guaranteed starter.
Wenger, meanwhile, has admitted that he will start next season without star striker Sanchez should Chile progress to the latter stages of the Copa America in the summer. The tournament will be staged in Sanchez's home country from June 11 to July 4 but the break in the English domestic season runs only between May 30, the date of the FA Cup final, and the start of the Premier League season on August 8.
Wenger likes to give his players at least four weeks of summer holiday, meaning any player who reaches the final of the Copa America would not be expected to return for pre-season until the week before the league starts.
Wenger has blamed Arsenal's failure to challenge Chelsea more strongly for the title on their slow start to the season; he implied yesterday that Jose Mourinho had shown him a lack of respect by calling his team "boring" for their failure to win the league since 2004.
Arsenal supporters chanted 'boring, boring Chelsea' during the goalless draw at the Emirates last Sunday, with Mourinho responding by arguing that it was far more boring to have not won the league for more than a decade.
"The biggest thing for a manager is to respect other managers - some people have to improve on that," said Wenger.
Asked if Mourinho needed to conduct himself with more dignity, Wenger added: "Everybody lives with his own internal problems and I live with mine.
"You can have incidents with other managers sometimes. It gets a bit heated when you fight directly with them, but in the end I believe time heals and the important thing is to respect each other as much as you can."
Arsenal are 10 points behind Chelsea and Wenger agreed that contrasting injury records had perhaps been a critical difference.
"I think so but it's easy to say," he said. "It took us some time to find a good balance and we dropped points because of that. We faced a big challenge because Chelsea didn't drop their level. Overall, we feel we have made progress.
"The gap in points doesn't always represent the value of the team. The gap is the gap and they have been more consistent."
(© Daily Telegraph, London)