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Arsène Wenger believes that youth is the key to Arsenal’s future

27th November 2012

• Wenger keen to get younger players on long-term contracts
• Theo Walcott recovered from injury and fit to play at Everton

The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, feels Arsenal must build their future around young British players such as Jack Wilshere. The 20-year-old has just returned from a long injury lay-off and is understood to be in preliminary negotiations over a contract extension. Wenger believes along with fellow England internationals Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Wilshere can become the heartbeat of the team.

“He has two-and-a-half years left – that’s quite a long time. We have built a team [where] we have a lot of young English players, or British players like Gibbs, Chamberlain, Wilshere. We still have the case of [Theo] Walcott [and] Aaron Ramsey. You want them all on long-term contracts,” Wenger said.

Last summer, the then captain Robin van Persie did not agree a new contract, eventually signing for Manchester United in a £24m deal. Walcott, meanwhile, has yet to commit himself past the end of the season, with Wenger saying that “unfortunately, I cannot give you any news” on the player’s future at Arsenal’s press conference ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Everton. The midfielder has recovered from a shoulder problem and should be in contention for the match at Goodison Park.

Wenger, however, is confident that when the time comes, Wilshere – touted as a future club captain – will sign on the dotted line. “Jack has always been very committed to this club and I hope he will show that. There is only one way to show it and that is to commit your long-term future to the club,” Wenger said.

Arsenal are now benefiting from their homegrown recruitment policy, which Wenger feels will make a strong bond between the developing players and their club. “If the quality is local, it is of course even better because it gives you more guarantee of stability because the players who are English who play for Arsenal are more likely to stay for a longer term than foreign players but we look first at quality, that is the most important,” he said.

Wenger came in for criticism from some of the travelling support during the draw at Villa Park on Saturday with chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” greeting the second-half substitution of the striker Olivier Giroud for the defensive midfielder Francis Coquelin. However, Wenger remains unmoved. “My job is to give full commitment to this club, with integrity. That’s what I always do without expecting any return. I don’t want to comment on that [the fans]. I just make sure that I do my job properly – that’s what I do.” © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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