In an era where players and supporters find it hard to relate to each other, given fans incomprehension around player’s salaries and player’s anxiety over fan interaction (in person or on social media) for fear of ridicule for one misplaced word, Jack Wilshere represents one of the final links between the two having risen through Arsenal’s academy, with the passion of a fan and conveniently possessing admired attributes like fight, aggression, drive and technique. Anxiety is therefore growing that the end of the season will see Jack’s last appearances in an Arsenal shirt given the player-club stalemate over a new contract.
If reports in the national press are to be believed, Jack has been asked to take a pay cut on his base salary (presumably due to his injury record) with the shortfall made-up by heavy incentives paid for appearances made. Jack’s camp, who will be seeing this as a pivotal contract, will be arguing he has appeared with enough regularity this season to warrant parity with his current contract or even an increase on his base salary given inflation in today’s market.
In addition to fans admiration of Jack, it can be argued that in form he is a world class talent. As well as ticking all the boxes of a modern day midfielder including stamina, technique, aggression and battle, Jack has a USP that sets him apart from his competitors with a special touch that combined with quick feet and rapid acceleration (over five yards) allows him to drive through midfield and at the heart of the oppositions defence. Such directness from the centre of midfield is a rare commodity allowing dangerous situations to be created consistently, even if the rest of the team are not playing well. One could also argue that over the course of this season in particular, Jack has made enough appearances to prove he can stand up to the rigors of a Premier League season.
On the flip side, the money men at Arsenal will have concluded the above as the exact problem in that Jack has only proved he can appear 20+ times in this one season. Financial analysis on Jack’s last contract will not make for good reading in terms of return on investment (comparing appearances vs. injuries accumulated) and added to this, Arsenal are simultaneously negotiating a contract which will involve paying higher terms to Aaron Ramsey who plays in the same position and is more reliable in terms of availability.
Based on the above, the resolution should be a no-brainer. The club should offer Jack a one season extension on inflated terms with an additional 2-3 years if he plays 25+ games next season. Jack appears keen to stay and given his new found durability will be confident of making the required performances to trigger a long term-extension, plus he will be on his desired increased terms. The club will have the security of breaking the contract after 12 months and the positive PR of retaining a popular and potential world class asset who has performed well this season. This is a no-brainier and should be addressed as a matter of urgency.