Wilshere has 'huge potential' says Wenger

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The Independent Football

Arsene Wenger is in no doubt Jack Wilshere has "huge potential" after the young midfielder committed his long-term future to Arsenal.

Earlier this week Wales international Aaron Ramsey, 18, agreed a contract extension, while the Gunners also handed professional contracts to four members of their successful FA Youth Cup team.

Wilshere signed pro forms when he turned 17 on New Year's Day having already become the youngest Arsenal player to represent the club in both the league and European competition, making his first-team breakthrough last season.

Hertfordshire-born Wilshere has been at the club since he was just nine, and Wenger firmly believes the midfielder - an integral member of the FA Youth Cup-winning side - is set for a bright future at Emirates Stadium.

"Jack made great progress last season, playing at Under-18s, reserves and first-team level, and we all witnessed what a great young talent he is," said the Gunners boss.

Wenger added on www.arsenal.com: "At still 17 years of age, the potential is huge for Jack and we are all delighted he has committed his long-term future to Arsenal."

Ramsey, meanwhile, has no intention of resting on his laurels after making 22 appearances last season following a move from Cardiff.

The Wales midfielder, who could have opted for Everton or Manchester United instead of the Gunners last summer, hopes to follow in the footsteps of fellow youngster Theo Walcott, now established in both the Arsenal first team and full England squad.

"Theo and I both came from Championship clubs to join Arsenal and I think my first year has been quite similar to Theo's first year at Arsenal," said Ramsey.

"Then in the second year he played a lot more games and got more experience under his belt, so hopefully I can take the same path.

"We have talked about it before, I have asked him how he found it when he was in my position."

Ramsey added: "Now I want to be more regular in the starting XI, get a lot more games under my belt and hopefully start more games as well. They are my targets."

Wenger's only signing so far has been Belgian defender Thomas Vermaelen and the Frenchman looks set to continue his pursuit of a holding midfielder.

Robin van Persie, last season's top scorer, is expected to agree terms on a new deal shortly, but the future of Togo striker Emmanuel Adebayor is yet to be resolved one way or another - with AC Milan continuing their interest.

The Arsenal board have, meanwhile, been digesting a proposal from major shareholder Alisher Usmanov over the possibility of a new £100million rights issue to help off-set some of the club's long-term debts.

A club statement read: "The board fully discussed the rights issue proposal with its advisors and will be communicating its decision to the club's major shareholders prior to making any public statements."