Jack Wilshere has revealed that Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger told him he could leave the club last summer following a wretched run of injuries which came close to claiming his career at the Emirates.
The 26-year-old spent last season on loan with Bournemouth and has since returned to the Gunners in arguably his best physical form since season 2013/14, having already made 31 appearances to date.
However, Wilshere's current deal with the club expires at the end of the season and despite finally being made a contract offer - on a reduced £80,000-per-week wage - the midfielder, whose priority is to stay, is resistant to agree to those terms which has therefore left talks at an impasse.
With mooted interest from the likes of Everton, West Ham and Juventus, Wilshere is not short of options moving forward but reflecting on the discussion with Wenger eight months ago, he toldthe Guardian: “It was an honest conversation.
“It had been boiling up for a while. Everybody knew I had a year left on my deal and had been out on loan, got injured and wasn’t really in his plans. He just said: ‘At the moment we are not going to be offering you a contract so, if you can get one somewhere else, you can go.’
Jack Wilshere earns about £90,000 a week. That's a huge amount for a player who hasn't really contributed much for Arsenal over the years. I love Jack, but I can't let facts get in the way of my sentiment, hence I feel the offer to not give him an increase IS JUSTIFIED.— LTArsenal™ (@ltarsenal) March 14, 2018
“Obviously I wasn’t happy with what the manager had said but, at the same time, part of me knew all this already. All I needed was some clarity on where I stood at the football club. How did I feel after? It did make me think.
"I had three or four weeks left in the transfer window but I didn’t find anything I wanted and at the same time I wasn’t really fit. So I decided to build up my fitness. I always had confidence I could get back into the midfield, and keep my place, if I was fit.
“So when the boss said I could leave, I wasn’t still thinking: ‘I need to get out and play games.’ It was more of a case of getting fully fit and showing what I could do. When I was at Bournemouth, getting back here was always the aim. This is where I wanted to be.”
Having worked his way back into Arsenal's starting eleven on a regular basis Wilshere recently earned his call up to the England side, and although there is a real possibility of having his future unresolved come the time to depart for the World Cup he remains unnconcerned.
Wilshere said: “I don’t think it would be a distraction. This is one of the most important years of my career and, if I’d worried about the contract, I would have probably ended up leaving in January.
"I just wanted to focus on getting back in the Arsenal team and then, hopefully, getting back here with England.
“Ideally, yes, I’d want it sorted as soon as possible. I want to go to the World Cup and enjoy it. But we have three months till then and a lot can happen. Let’s finish the season strongly. We’ve got a big competition that we need to win with Arsenal and I want to be involved in that.
"Hopefully, going into the World Cup, I’ll be fit and, if selected, confident,” he added.