Arsenal midfielder Arsene Wenger insists his decision to hand Jack Wilshere the captain’s armband at times this season is not a ploy to lure the midfielder into signing a new contract.
The England international continues to run down his current deal at Emirates Stadium and is due to drop into the free agent pool at the end of the season.
Fresh terms have been mooted for some time, with Wenger expressing a desire to get an agreement over the line, but little movement has been made in talks.
Wilshere’s position in those discussions has been strengthened by a return to prominence this season, with an academy graduate rewarded with a position as skipper in certain fixtures.
Wenger says that call is based purely on the 26-year-old’s standing in north London, telling beIN SPORTS when asked if he was hoping to influence extension talks: “No, not at all.
“He was born at the club basically. He has a long history with the club, strong link with the club.
“Jack Wilshere on the pitch is a big quality.
“Apart from his technical top qualities he has personality and is in the right place on the pitch, and now with the maturity to organise around him. That's why I played him central.
“I just thought the combination of history, the fact that he's a long-term player for the club, the fact that he has experience and knowledge now, I trust now to make him captain.”
Wilshere has made 31 appearances across all competitions this season – his best return since 2013-14.
He is currently back on the treatment table, having seen an untimely knee problem prevent him from representing England against Netherlands and Italy, but is very much in contention for a World Cup spot and still has the Europa League to aim for with Arsenal.