Wilshere, 4 Arsenal teammates agree to new deals
LONDON (AP) Arsenal has secured the futures of five key players, with Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, and Carl Jenkinson signing new deals.
Arsenal has lost a string of top talent in recent years, including Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas.
But Wednesday's announcement of new long-term contracts for five players comes after Arsenal rose to fifth in the English Premier League by beating Reading 5-2 on Monday following its worst start to a season since Arsene Wenger took charge in 1996.
"We are delighted that these five young players have all signed new long-term contracts," Wenger said. "The plan is to build a team around a strong basis of young players, in order to get them to develop their talent at the club.
"Jack is certainly the best known, the leader of this group - but the other four players are exceptional footballers, and we're very happy that we could conclude their new deals at the same time."
The 20-year-old Wilshere, one of England's most exciting young midfield prospects, and the 23-year-old defender Gibbs rose through Arsenal's youth ranks.
Ramsey, the 21-year-old Wales midfielder, has been with Arsenal since 2008.
Oxlade-Chamberlain, a 19-year-old winger, joined Arsenal from Southampton in 2011 when the 20-year-old defender Jenkinson arrived from Charlton.
"I believe when you have a core of British players, it's always easier to keep them together and that's what we'll try to achieve going forward," Wenger said.
But Arsenal is yet to resolve its drawn-out contract stand-off with Theo Walcott, whose contract expires at the end of the season.
Updated December 19, 2012