Monday 17 June 2019

Arsenal planning for next season without Wilshere

Jack Wilshere future at Arsenal remains uncertain. Photo: Simon Cooper/PA
Jack Wilshere future at Arsenal remains uncertain. Photo: Simon Cooper/PA

Jeremy Wilson

Arsenal have made central midfield, as well as central defence, a transfer priority as uncertainty over the future of Jack Wilshere increases.

The 26-year-old is out of contract this summer and, while recent performances have prompted the offer of a new deal, he is not happy with the terms and is considering other options, which are likely to include signing for Everton.

Arsenal are also weighing up their position and Sven Mislintat's scouting department is looking to bolster the spine of the squad. With Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey having not extended their contracts and Santi Cazorla's playing career in the balance, central midfield has become a major focus.

Arsenal have been assessing Schalke's Max Meyer, who is also out of contract this summer and at the age of 22 might be regarded as a better long-term use of resources.

Manager Arsene Wenger has repeatedly said that he wants Wilshere to stay but he did tell him that he could leave last summer and the offer of £90,000 a week - albeit with potential add-ons - reflects caution over his injury record.

Wilshere missed England's recent friendlies against Italy and Holland with a knee injury but, assistant manager Steve Bould yesterday stressed, he was now fully fit.

Alexandre Lacazette and Ramsey have also trained fully ahead of Sunday's match against Stoke City, but Wenger must also consider the Europa League quarter-final tie against CSKA Moscow on Thursday. The Europa League represents both Arsenal's only chance of silverware and their best opportunity to qualify for the Champions League.

Bould, who was deputising at the press conference after Wenger lost his voice, also described the 68-year-old as the hungriest he has been for success.

"He takes unbelievable stick off a lot of people and he's just one of the great managers," said Bould. "He's remarkable. Behind closed doors I've never known someone who is as hungry and determined to win games. It's as big as I've ever seen."

Bould played under Wenger when he became manager in 1996, he then worked as a youth coach and in 2012 took the role of assistant manager. Their relationship has been the subject of scrutiny amid claims that Wenger's control of training has limited Bould's potential influence on addressing the defensive weaknesses in the squad. "I love the man - there are no issues," said Bould.

Wenger's future remains in doubt amid what has been his worst Premier League campaign, but centre-back Shkodran Mustafi said he hopes a players' meeting had helped turn a corner. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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