With five Arsenal first teamers in their final 12 months of their contracts, we here at allArsenal.com are having a look at the players on the list and the status of their negotiations or lack there of. First up is Theo Walcott.
Arsenal Fact File:
Name: Theo Walcott
Born: March 16, 1989 Middlesex, England
Previous Club(s): Southampton
Joined Arsenal: January 20, 2006
Total Appearances: 145+88
Total Goals: 50
Total Assists: 40
2013 Expiring contracts: Theo Walcott [Part 1]
The England international is the most high profile player on the list that has been gaining the most media attention and for good reason to. So far he is Arsenal’s top goal scorer this season which is even more impressive comparative to the minutes he has only played and he even notched his 50th Arsenal goal against Schalke in midweek.
The ‘contract rebel’ was a regular starter when fit last season, however this term its been a bit different. He has suffered injuries and illness leading to less appearances prior to starting against Reading and Schalke, and naturally it has led to the suggestion that Wenger is in fact standing strong over Walcott’s contract situation. But the Frenchman is adamant that Walcott’s lack of playing time has been related to his fitness and other players performing well, however he wants the contractual situation sorted soon otherwise the 23-year-old will be sold in January. Wenger recently stated:
I’ve not thought about losing him because at the moment I think we will still manage to make a deal with him. There is urgency [about sorting it out]. We want to sort it out before Christmas, one way or the other.
One of the most commonly discussed topics related to Walcott is whether he should be utilized as a striker rather than on the wing, a thought that is shared by the England winger himself. While Wenger has continually maintained that one day he will follow in the footsteps of both Thierry Henry and Robin Van Persie to play more centrally, he needs to focus on his game out wide where he is currently better suited.
Playing on the wing provides him with more space to attack, and as we can all see, he is still able to get into positions to score. Right now he is not consistent enough to be a striker and is more efficient out wide. Giroud holds the ball up well, distributes and is solid in the air which makes him a more efficient centre-forward that helps to activate the midfielders, whereas Walcott takes a more direct approach and likes to attack the defenders hence his efficiency out wide. But for this season it seems that the Englishman is happy just to be playing after numerous cameos from the bench, speaking after the Schalke fixture he said:
I just want to play, and hopefully now I can get a run in the team because I feel I fully deserve it.
It was a good point but it would have been a fantastic victory. I did all I could with the late chance. The ball got stuck to my feet and I just couldn’t get it out.
[On whether the contract situation has affected his playing time] You have to ask the manager that question. I can’t answer that.
Walcott has reportedly turned down a £80,000 a week deal from the Gunners and is either seeking more assurances that he will play up front or is holding out for more money. Both of which are completely unreasonable asks from the Englishman.
Firstly he is worth around £75-80,000 a week, not in the £100,000 a week bracket, and if he wants to earn this amount he needs to prove his ability to be Arsenal’s star player which he has the potential to become but still needs to develop his game. Secondly, yes he can be effective as a striker at some point in the future, but for the time being he is best used out wide similarly to Podolski, and as a winger within Arsenal’s style of play you still have the opportunity to express yourself and attack. Walcott will get his chance to be a striker at Arsenal, but not quite yet.
Despite his lack of commitment to a new deal, Gooners still stand behind him, and they were even calling for him against United on the weekend. Walcott has stated in the past that he wants to remain at the Emirates and a deal would be sorted in the near future, citing his last contract talks that were lengthy, which is different to Na$ri and Van Pursey’s situation who were adamant not to re-sign.
So Walcott hasn’t messed up his relationship with the fans as of yet, however if an agreement is not made soon then he will be off in January which is probably the worst move for his career at Arsenal. The only top club that he would actually get a shot at starting would have to be Liverpool, but even there he will struggle to play as a striker. It is best for all parties that the Englishman signs a new deal and soon, he has a big future ahead at the Emirates (he’s still only 23!) and has a real shot at becoming a club legend if he commits his future to the Gunners and continues to develop as he has over the past few years.
What do you guys think? Do you think Arsenal should give in to his wage demands/footballing demands, should they stand strong with the generous £80k wages and offer no more or sell him in January? Comment below or in allArsenal’s forum under Theo’s thread.