The midfielder, on a season-long loan at Bournemouth, will have one year remaining when he returns to Arsenal in the summer and Wenger wants to begin talks in January to retain the services of a homegrown player whose association with the club goes back to boyhood. Wenger quipped that negotiations would not be imminent – “not before the Bournemouth game” – but he did want to get cracking on talks soon. “Ideally, yes.”
Wenger has not spoken to Wilshere directly since the player moved to Bournemouth. “I leave him to deal with his manager. Every week I ask: ‘How did he play?’ I read the reports and when I can see highlights or watch him on television, I will watch him. I’m happy that he hasn’t had any injuries since he left us.”
Wilshere will be unavailable on Sunday when Eddie Howe’s team visit the Emirates, under the regulations that prevent a loan player from featuring against his parent club.
Wenger is hoping his team can rediscover some of the verve that has slowed down in recent weeks as Arsenal mustered three consecutive draws against Tottenham, Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain. “We have to find our game back,” he says. “We didn’t lose but if you do not create, that will not last. It’s important that we find our simplicity, speed and pacy combinations back. We missed that fluency, that security in our decision-making that made us dangerous in the final third. That is what is at stake for us.”
There has been quite regular rotation in midfield in the absence of Santi Cazorla, and the balance is not yet quite right. “In November you see the first signs of players who need a little breather, especially in areas where you fight and run a lot. I try to combine both to give players fresh legs and also get around the fact that Santi’s not there.”
This weekend might provide an opening for Granit Xhaka, the £35m midfielder who has found match time hard to come by since joining in the summer – one of the reasons why Wilshere felt a loan would give him more games of his own. Wenger outlined his confidence that Xhaka will come good: “I’m very happy with his commitment. I think he’s developing well. He hasn’t maybe started enough since the start of the season but he is adapting to a different league, a different way of playing. Overall I’m happy because every day he’s focused on working hard and I’m confident he’ll get his number of games.”
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