Jack Wilshere is “a superstar approaching the levels of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil”, says Martin Keown, with a new Arsenal contract “a formality”.
The 26-year-old midfielder was in danger of becoming a forgotten man at Emirates Stadium when allowed to link up with Premier League rivals Bournemouth last season.
Another untimely injury saw that spell cut short and it appeared as though the England international was destined to leave north London, either during the 2017-18 campaign or at the end of his current deal.
Wilshere has, however, forced his way back into contention and so impressive has his form been of late that he is now considered to be a vital part of Arsene Wenger’s plans – especially as he has expressed a willingness to stay on, unlike fellow potential summer free agents Sanchez and Ozil.
"Jack [Wilshere] proved against Chelsea on Wednesday that he is well and truly back, and a force to be reckoned with," former Gunners defender Keown wrote in a column for the Daily Mail.
"He is a superstar approaching the levels of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil but, crucially, he wants to play for Arsenal.
"The uncertainty surrounding the futures of Sanchez and Ozil has created a flat feeling at Arsenal.
"Much was made of some Arsenal players not celebrating with Sanchez when he scored at Crystal Palace but that was not the case when Wilshere fired Arsenal into the lead against Chelsea. You could see how much his goal meant to everyone, including the substitutes.
"Wilshere is the figurehead in this dressing room and does not take any nonsense.
"He has taken those fighting qualities which have seen him battle back from injury and is displaying them to great effect. He is the dynamo in Arsenal’s engine room."
With Wilshere now very much back in favour, and with Wenger admitting that future talks are planned, Keown believes it is only a matter of time before an extended stay is agreed.
He added: "It should be a formality that he signs a new contract. Given his injury history, he will have to be realistic and the club may want to build something into his deal which is linked to appearances.
"If Wilshere plays, he should be paid top dollar, but allowances have to be made for if he has another lengthy injury lay-off."
Wilshere has made 19 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions this season – his best return for the club since 2014-15.