Arsene Wenger wants Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere to stay at Arsenal
Arsene Wenger wants Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere to remain at Arsenal regardless of what happens in Saturday's FA Cup final against Aston Villa.
The England pair were in rich late-season form in last week's final Premier League match of the season against West Brom.
Walcott grabbed a hat trick from a central role while Wilshere scored a spectacular long-range strike in the 4-1 victory, boosting hopes of cup final starting roles after their 2014-15 seasons were ruined by injury.
"I want Walcott to play through the middle and I want both of them to stay here," said Wenger, brushing off speculation the duo may leave leave the Emirates Stadium this summer.
Walcott's performance as a centre-forward last week suggested that Wenger sees the 26-year-old -- who has been linked with a move to Liverpool with contract talks reaching an impasse -- as a striker rather than winger.
"I think he is good enough," said Wenger. "Anyway he can play on the flank, but if you ask me where do I see him in the future, it is through the middle. If you ask him, he will tell you as well through the middle.
"He has electric pace, and he has top, top quality in the timing of his runs. If you have that quality if you analyse that, it is the quality of his receptions, the space where he gets the ball basically, that is above average compared to many players."
Walcott's hat trick was in stark contrast to Olivier Giroud's lack of goals in recent weeks. The France international has not scored for eight matches, while Walcott has looked sharp after a slow recovery from January 2014's cruciate rupture.
Wenger suggested he cannot play both as strikers in the same starting XI, saying: "When I play Giroud, I will not play [Walcott] through the middle.
"Giroud has a completely different game to Theo but he has strong points that are very important in the squad.
"When I play Giroud I play [Walcott] on the flank. He came here as a wide player."
Wilshere missed almost six months of the 2014-15 campaign with a broken ankle, and has lately been linked with a move away from the Emirates with Manchester City a reported possible destination.
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"He knows he is wanted," said Wenger of the 23-year-old. "I made Jack Wilshere start at 17 years of age. That means that you cannot show a bigger desire of wanting a player and we have always extended his contract, and we have been very patient with all his injuries.
"We always stood by him through every difficult moment. Does that mean we want him to stay here for a longer period? Yes, as we would like to benefit from his talent now."
When asked if he had ever considered selling Wilshere, Wenger replied with a simple: "No."