Theo Walcott, who recently signed a new long-term deal with the Gunners, has admitted his relief over the new deal and has explain the reasons behind the dragged out negotiations.
With his existing contract set to expire at the end of this season nerves surrounded the Emirates as it seemed Wenger may lose another star player during the summer transfer window, however this time for free. Despite fans and players rallying to convince Walcott to ‘Sign Da Ting’ it seemed that the England international was on his way out with ongoing negotiations seeming like they may never reach an agreement.
However Arsene Wenger’s strategy to play the Englishman up front while Giroud struggled with form helped to tip the contract talks in his favour, and the continued banter from fellow team-mates eventually paid dividends as Walcott eventually committed his allegiance to Arsenal.
Walcott told Arsenal’s official website:
I was always thinking about it [last season], but I had the Euros last summer and I wanted to concentrate on that, and not have other things on my mind.
Then I wanted to have a break before the season, which is important because we don’t have a winter break.
I think the previous contract took more than six months to finalise, and this was probably a bit longer actually.
It’s one of those things that’s never going to happen overnight. When everyone’s happy, that’s when to do it, and thankfully it turned out that way.
[On Wenger playing him as a centre forward] I think having an opportunity to play up front played a part. Saying that, I don’t feel we should change it at the moment with Olivier [Giroud] doing so well there.
The manager obviously knows what’s best for the team, but it’s nice having more opportunities to show what I can do up front.
The boss has always had so much belief in me from a young age, but we haven’t won anything for a long time now, so we want to pay him back by winning something.
If we don’t perform he always takes it back on himself, but at times it’s not fair because we’re the players that go out there and do it.
He definitely lets us know when we are not performing though, which is the right way to do it. He’s a great manager and I’ve learned so much from him over the years.
A song written about Walcott’s contract talks called ‘Sign Da Ting‘ became so popular even his team mates sung the hilarious tune in a bid to sway him toward staying, and also the likes of Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain expressed their desire in interviews for their friend to remain with them at the Emirates.
The Englishman said on whether he was pressured from his team mates:
Yeah, I was. The ‘Sign Da Ting’ song – Lukas Podolski loved doing it every time he saw me in the dressing room, in training.
All the guys would joke about it. It wasn’t too serious because players know how long contracts take, and they don’t want to get involved.
But it’s always healthy to have a bit of banter, and it made me smile every time hearing that – that’s why I love these guys. They’re great.
Walcott signing a new deal helped the Emirates faithful breathe a little easier, his form has been decent for most of the season and he is the Clubs top scorer this season. He always manages to have some sort of influence on the match and is a vital cog in Wenger’s attacking force, one of the most refreshing things the Englishman said was his understanding that Giroud currently is a better option at centre forward. Walcott has been a more venemous option out wide rather than through the middle where he struggles to hold up the ball unlike the Frenchman who is tall and powerful.
But the time will come for our English international to make the transition to an out and out striker, and meanwhile his commitment to the Club and Wenger is exactly what the Gunners need at a time when players have left summer after summer.