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Zidane and Real Madrid must play it safe

Real Madrid
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Young Gunners to sign new deals

Arsenal are close to agreeing new long-term contracts with Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Aaron Ramsey, according to ESPN sources.

• Bould upset by rift talk
• Dimond: Gunners must target Pep
• Brewin: Wenger still all-powerful

Arsene Wenger also has funds in place to make two big signings in the January transfer window, while he has not abandoned hope that Theo Walcott, who will be a free agent in the summer, will remain at the club. Arsenal are also confident that Bacary Sagna, whose deal runs until 2014, will agree an extension.

Despite the Capital One Cup exit to Bradford City representing a particularly difficult moment in an already testing season, there is a feeling within the club that any talk of a crisis is wide of the mark.

They are hoping to offer reassurances to the supporters by tying down the futures of England duo Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain and Wales midfielder Ramsey.

The Gunners have been forced to cash in on a number of players in recent years, including Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie, after allowing their contracts to run into their final year and are determined to avoid a repeat. There is a clear concern that Walcott could follow, but talks are still described as "ongoing".

Wilshere, who has two and a half years remaining on his £50,000-a-week deal, is in line for a significant pay-rise that would see his salary move significantly closer to the £90,000 that Lukas Podolski, the club's highest earner, receives. Wenger views Wilshere, 20, as a future Arsenal captain.

The source said: "The three youngsters are agreeing long-term contracts and that is very positive."

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