Following Arsenal’s 2-0 victory at Milan yesterday in the first leg of the Europa League Round of 16, midfielder Jack Wilshere told James Olley of the Evening Standard that talks between himself and the club “have changed” but “we are no closer to sorting anything out.”
These comments last night follow Arsene Wenger suggesting last month that, apparently, all it took for Arsenal and Wilshere to agree to a contract extension was “...to find a pen somewhere” and that the decision was solely up to the player at this point. Contract talks, judging by prior comments by both the player and Wenger, appear to have started at the beginning of 2018, and the rumor is the final offer on the table is a pay-cut from his £120,000 a week packet - however, it is sweetened with performance incentives that can see him earn more if he stays healthy.
Wilshere has seen considerable time on the pitch this season, largely due in part to Aaron Ramsey’s continued struggles with fitness, and as a result rightly feels he’s proven himself to warrant a contract that doesn’t rest on whether or not he’s fit enough to be selected. While he’s not the player he was early in his career, or traveled the career path he thought he’d be able to achieve, he’s a useful squad option to rely upon during heavy periods of rotation and injury. Wilshere has his faults, but at 26 years old he’s been around long enough to be effective when placed exactly in the right spot with other, more physical players to shoulder the burden from him.
The threat of a Bosman looms as each day comes and goes, and at this point it looks as though neither Arsenal nor Wilshere are budging from what appears to be very concrete positions in this protracted negotiation. Wilshere’s been an Arsenal man all of his life and it looks like he and the club want to continue the relationship, but he could certainly get more playing time at a lower level Premier League club were he to prioritize that as much as earnings. It’s now a matter of who blinks first.