Arsene Wenger has called on his British stars to take charge of Arsenal’s future.
It remains to be seen how much longer Wenger will reign over the Emirates Stadium – the 67-year-old refuses to reveal if he will sign a new contract to stay beyond the end of the current season.
A minority of supporters have been calling for Wenger to go after a poor run of form saw the Gunners drop out of the Premier League title race and eliminated from the Champions League with a 10-2 aggregate loss to Bayern Munich.
That leaves only the FA Cup as potential silverware for Arsenal in what could yet prove to be Wenger’s swansong.
The Frenchman heads into his 11th semi-final as Arsenal boss when they meet Manchester City at Wembley on Sunday.
And ahead of the clash with Pep Guardiola’s side he has laid down the gauntlet to his much-heralded core of British talent.
The likes of Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs, Theo Walcott and Jack Wilshere have all arguably yet to hit the heights their budding careers promised.
But, on the eve of the last-four meeting, Wenger insists they are still integral to Arsenal.
Asked if his collective of British players remained important, he replied: “Yes, of course.
“But what I love above a passport are players who integrate the values of the club. That is the most important. And they have to be ready to defend these values.
“It’s more natural for local players because they have been educated in Arsenal – players like Ramsey, Chamberlain. They have to take charge of the future of the club.
“They should lead and take responsibility to say ‘yes, that is how we want to behave, this is how we want to play, let’s go together.’
“If they didn’t want it, that would be a huge disappointment. A lot is said about my future but my future is more important in the value and spirit of what we have built in 20 years than my own person.
“These guys have to take charge of what we have built and the values of the club. We are a club that are admired for that.
“We have supporters all over the world because of that…the values that this club represents. It’s not only for the trophies that we win that is important. It’s also about the way you behave, the way you think.”