Where are they now? Arsene Wenger’s British core at Arsenal from 2012
While Arsene Wenger brought lots of overseas stars to Arsenal during his time at the club, he also put faith in homegrown talent.
Back in December 2012, Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson all signed new long-term contracts at the club.
“I believe when you have a core of British players, it’s always easier to keep them together,” Wenger said at the time.
“We are delighted that these five young players have all signed new long-term contracts. 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.”
We’ve taken a look at those five players to see how they’ve fared since.
#OTD 2012, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Kieron Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all signed new contracts, as #Arsenal spoke about the value of having young British players in the team. pic.twitter.com/DLhChr6rHI
— Arsenal History From Highbury To The Emirates (@4949Undefeted) December 19, 2022
Once regarded as the future of English football, Wilshere shot to prominence with a brilliant display against Barcelona in the Champions League in February 2011.
Unfortunately, that would be the defining night of his football career. He was unable to replicate performances like that too often as a series of injury problems derailed the midfielder’s career.
Still, Wilshere made nearly 200 appearances for the Gunners before being released when Wenger departed at the end of 2017-18.
His terrible luck with injuries continued during spells at West Ham United and Bournemouth, and he called it quits at the age of 30 following a short stint with AGF. Wilshere returned to his boyhood club last summer and is now coaching their Under-18s.
After suffering a horror leg-break early on in his Arsenal career, Ramsey had loan spells at Nottingham Forest and Cardiff City before re-establishing himself in the team.
He then developed into one of the best midfielders in the Premier League, playing a starring role in the last three FA Cups won under Wenger.
The Wales international decided to join Juventus on a free transfer in 2019, having scored 64 goals in 369 appearances during his 11 years at Arsenal.
He won the Scudetto in Turin but fell down the pecking order and was released after a forgettable loan stint at Rangers last summer.
Nowadays the 32-year-old is turning out alongside fellow Premier League old boys Ross Barkley, Morgan Schneiderlin and Kasper Schmeichel, as well as Arsenal loanee Nicolas Pepe, at Ligue 1 side Nice.
Signed from Southampton for £15million in the summer of 2011, Oxlade-Chamberlain was widely tipped for a bright future at the Emirates.
He enhanced his reputation with a brilliant performance against AC Milan in 2012 but struggled to ever nail down a starting spot under Wenger.
The England international eventually ran out of patience and opted for a fresh challenge in 2017, joining Liverpool in a £35million deal.
“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Oxlade-Chamberlain told The Times in 2017. “I want to thank the Arsenal fans who’ve always supported me but I can’t apologise for my decision to leave. I want to get more out of myself.
“I felt the main thing was taking myself out of my comfort zone. That’s why Liverpool shouted out for me.”
Despite struggling with injury problems at Anfield, he’s still won everything there is to win with Jurgen Klopp’s side. You’d expect him to depart when his contract is up in the summer, though.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is not the first player to leave Arsenal and win the Premier League title 👀 pic.twitter.com/PdGryifTL6
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 27, 2020
A Gunners fan since childhood, Jenkinson earned a dream move from Charlton to the Emirates in 2011 and was initially regarded as Bacary Sagna’s long-term successor.
But the full-back struggled with injury problems and never played more than 14 Premier League games for Arsenal in a single season.
After outlasting the rest of the British core, he finally waved goodbye in 2019 with a £2million move to Nottingham Forest, ending an eight-year association with the club.
“I can’t really put into words what it has meant to me to play for this club, but what I can say is I have truly lived my dream,” Jenkinson wrote on Instagram.
“This brings me to you, the proper Arsenal fans, as I have lived your dream too. It has been an up and down journey for me but I hope you all have seen how much it has meant to me and know that I have given it my all.
“I have played 70 games for Arsenal which if you told me I would do as a kid I would’ve laughed at you. I take many great memories and friendships from my time at this special football club, and it is a chapter in my life that I will cherish forever.”
Jenkinson struggled to work his way into Forest’s starting XI, making just 11 Championship appearances in two and a half seasons. He’s now plying his trade in Australia for A-League outfit Newcastle Jets.
READ: How TWO Arsenal outfielders ended up in goal on loan at West Ham
Not to be mistaken for Oxlade-Chamberlain – a mistake famously once made by Andre Marriner – Gibbs came through the Arsenal academy and made his senior debut for the club in 2007.
After initially playing understudy to Gael Clichy, the left-back later established himself as a regular in the team, making over 200 appearances in all competitions.
But he fell down the pecking order following the arrivals of Nacho Monreal and Sead Kolasinac, departing for West Brom in the summer of 2017.
The 33-year-old spent four years with the Baggies and then joined David Beckham-owned Inter Miami in MLS, where he linked up with the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Blaise Matuidi and Ryan Shawcross. Those three players have since retired, but Gibbs remains with the Florida club and is currently gearing up for the 2023 campaign.
READ NEXT: Ranking every player to wear the No.5 shirt for Arsenal in the Premier League
TRY A QUIZ: Can you name every French player to appear for Arsenal in the PL?