• Policy of not having players back is not set in stone
• Wilshere scores twice in 3-0 win over Rangers
Arsène Wenger will, over the coming days, turn his thoughts as to whether he can offer Patrick Vieira a short-term contract at Arsenal and he remains optimistic that a deal can be struck for his former captain and one-time midfield inspiration.
The Frenchman's general policy is not to re-sign players but he insisted yesterday that the practice is not set in stone and he hinted that Vieira, now at Internazionale, may prove to be an exception. He also joked that there would be no need to make phone calls to Italy or the Italian club because of the depth of his relationship with Vieira. "If I want to call Patrick, I take an English number. An illegal approach, yes," he said with a smile.
Wenger now has a short break in a hectic pre-season programme. His team won the Emirates Cup yesterday with a 3–0 victory over Rangers, which followed Saturday's 2–1 success against Atlético Madrid, and the Gunners do not play again until the trip to Valencia this Saturday – their final fixture before the start of the Premier League season. Vieira, however, will fly with Inter to Beijing today where his team are scheduled to face Lazio in the Italian Super Cup on Saturday. The distance between him and Wenger in terms of miles and time zones is unlikely to stop them from talking.
"I have had these two games against Atlético and Rangers to think about," said Wenger. "Now we have a day off. I think about the whole squad because two weeks ago, for example, I didn't know whether we would have Tomas Rosicky and Eduardo back or not, and they both look to be completely back so that makes the squad quite big.
"Would I like to work with Patrick again? I have no personal problem with Patrick at all; I have a huge respect for him. We have a very good relationship. It is a general policy [not to re-sign players] but I never said I would never do it. Usually I don't do it. I am not a big fan because I feel that once the player has gone, he's gone."
One of the principal attractions in bringing Vieira back to a club that he served with distinction for nine seasons before he moved to Juventus in 2005 would appear to be his commanding presence in the dressing room and his winners' mentality.
"I don't deny that," said Wenger, who has a young squad, "but you have an impact when you play. Patrick is a great player. I have not considered it yet to bring him back; it is a possibility that I have to think about. First of all, it is not sure that he will decide to join us if I decide to try to make him come. So there is a lot of thinking to be done."
Vieira's thinking, over and above the issue of a potential pay-off from Inter, will involve the number of matches he might expect to play at Arsenal. The 33-year-old France captain dreams of leading his country at the World Cup finals in South Africa next summer, having been born on that continent (in Senegal) and he knows that he needs regular football to ensure his international place.
Wenger has experimented with a 4–3–2–1 formation in pre-season and with the current captain Cesc Fábregas certain to be one of the regulars in the midfield three, the competition for Vieira would come from Alex Song, Denilson, Abou Diaby and Aaron Ramsey.
It was another midfielder, however, who was the toast of the Emirates yesterday. Jack Wilshere, 17, the England youth international who played in one of the more advanced roles in Wenger's formation, scored twice, the second a glorious rising drive on the half-volley into the top corner to take the man of the match award in front of the watching England manager Fabio Capello.
Wilshere had also won the award against Atlético, which made Andrey Arshavin's naming as the player of the tournament slightly curious. Eduardo got the other goal yesterday. "Let's be calm and quiet," said Wenger, when asked about Wilshere. "The World Cup is next year, there's still a year to go so let's first see how Jack improves. Let's not make stars from two games. You have to respect the development of the players. The only problem in England, knowing the impatience of English people, [is that] it will be difficult to keep the right pace of his progress.
"It is difficult to say how much he will play. I build him, put him in the dressing room at 16 years of age to give him a chance to practise every day with first-team players. He has benefited a lot from that special treatment, an acceleration of his education."
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