Arsenal have finally made an official move to retain Jack Wilshere, with reports suggesting that the long-serving midfielder has been presented with the formal offer of a new contract that includes a pay cut.
Wilshere’s current deal is due to expire at the end of the season but talks over an extension have only begun this month, following the busy Christmas and New Year period.
According to outlets including The Daily Mail, the midfielder, who, unlike Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil has repeatedly signalled his desire to remain with the club that he joined at the age of nine, is mulling over reduced terms of £80,000-a-week – £10,000-a-week less than he banks at present.
However, the proposal is said to include a similar bonus structure to the one that exists in his current agreement that could see his earnings increase to up to £120,000-per-week. It remains to be seen if he will deem those terms acceptable.
Wilshere’s situation has been somewhat overshadowed of late by the ongoing drama surrounding Sanchez, but his recent resurgence has no doubt prompted Arsenal to press forward with negotiations with the 26-year-old technically now free to begin discussing a pre-contract agreement with any interested parties from overseas.
Having initially struggled to earn regular opportunities outside of the cup competitions upon recovering from another leg fracture that brought a premature end to his season-long loan spell at Bournemouth, Wilshere has strengthened his bargaining position by being arguably the Gunners’ best performer of late.
Described by many as the solitary shining light in one of the worst teams formed by manager Arsene Wenger, the 34-cap England international made his first top-flight start for Arsenal in 577 days in the goalless draw against West Ham United on 13 December, completing 90 minutes of a league game for the club for the first time in over three years.
Wilshere has been a regular fixture since then as he bids to return to the Three Lions fold in the run-up to the World Cup, starting seven of the next nine matches. He played every minute of six of those games and missed only the Carabao Cup win over the Hammers and the shock FA Cup third-round defeat to Nottingham Forest.
Fears that he may have once again succumbed to injury after limping off with more than half an hour to go of the goalless Carabao Cup semi-final draw against Chelsea last week were allayed after it transpired that an ankle sprain was not as bad as first feared.
Wilshere, who was handed the captain’s armband at Stamford Bridge with Per Mertesacker on the bench and Laurent Koscielny absent, recovered in time to continue his starting streak at Bournemouth on Sunday [14 January].
He produced arguably the only passable performance as out-of-form Arsenal conceded twice in four minutes to fritter away a second-half lead in a 2-1 loss that extended their winless run across all competitions to five games and left them eight points adrift of the top four.