Wenger decides to rely on British core



As a result of the premature departure of his side’s previous leaders – Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie and Alex Song to name a few –  it appears that Arsene Wenger has decided to rely on a British core rather than “fickle” foreigners.

Losing the likes of Cesc and RVP must have been particularly painful for the Frenchman and one cannot begrudge him for changing his approach. It is far more likely for home-grown stars such as Wilshere, Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain to stick around at Arsenal for years to come instead of running off to greener pastures elsewhere in England or abroad. Several prime examples of loyal British players come to mind such as Steven Gerrard & Jamie Carragher (Liverpool), Paul Scholes & Ryan Giggs (Manchester United), Ledley King (Tottenham) and even Tony Hibbert (Everton). The same can be said of home-grown players of other nations in their respective leagues, such as Serie A’s Francesco Totti (AS Roma) and La Liga’s Iker Casillas (Real Madrid). The strategy of relying on native players definitely has merit and may prove to be the saving grace of what could be the final chapter of Wenger’s largely successful tenure at Arsenal.

Arsenal announced new long-term deals for the British quintet Jack Wilshere, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Wenger had often been criticised in the past for not developing enough homegrown players, but feels the latest crop of talent will be in it for the long term, reports The Guardian.

“We are delighted that these five young players have all signed new long-term contracts.” said Wenger.

“The plan is to build a team around a strong basis of young players, in order to get them to develop their talent at the club. Jack is certainly the best known, the leader of this group – but the other four are exceptional footballers, and we’re very happy that we could conclude their new deals at the same time.

“We could not keep the core of foreign players [at the club] but I hope we can build a team around these players. We have gone through a period of restricted financial potential when we moved into the new stadium but we have gone over that and, hopefully, we can be a bit more convincing now.”

Wenger continued: “Gibbs, Jenkinson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey and Wilshere represent a core of the squad and it’s an extension for a long period for all of them. I’m a strong believer in stability and I believe when you have a core of British players it’s always easier to keep them together, and that’s what we’ll try to achieve going forward.”

The players are all full internationals, and between them have already made more than 350 first-team appearances for the Gunners. It is Wilshere’s commitment that is the most encouraging, as the England midfielder is seen as paramount to their ambitions. The 20-year-old has been unwavering in his desire to stay with his boyhood club, and he made his intentions clear last weekend.

In fact, if Arsene can persuade Theo Walcott to follow his countrymen in committing his future to Arsenal, the backbone of Wenger’s team could prove to be extremely strong a few years down the line. However, as time progresses without any positive news in this regard, chances are that the England winger will choose to pursue the remainder of his career elsewhere. Nevertheless, Wenger continues to be optimistic, “My gut feeling is that he belongs to this club and that I hope he will do it and sign for us. I always am convinced that he will stay.”

In the meantime, not all are convinced that the North London club has made the right move by tying down players who have shown varied degrees of potential and none of which is the finished article. Goal.com’s Wayne Veysey runs the rule over all five of the British players that have signed contract extensions at Arsenal.

How do you feel about this change in Arsene’s approach? Which of the five British players do you think will stay at Arsenal and guide the club back to winning ways? Do share your feedback with us.

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