How the tables have turned for Theo Walcott at Arsenal this season.
In August 2012, Arsenal announced the departure of their captain Robin van Persie to historic rivals Manchester United, much to the hue and cry of Arsenal fans. But…there was one person at Arsenal who benefited from the transfer of Van Persie – Theo Walcott. Back then, the 26-year-old was in the final year of his contract and Arsene Wenger simply couldn’t afford to lose one more forward so soon. Wenger decided to keep hold of him during that summer transfer window in the hope that Theo could eventually be convinced to sign the extension later on in the campaign.
After much speculation and months of contract negotiations, the speedster finally ‘Signed Da Ting’ in January 2013. He agreed a three-and-a-half-year contract on weekly wages of £100,000 (according to The Guardian), which made him the highest paid Gunner at the time. Now we could only imagine how much his agent must have twisted the club’s hand into giving Walcott that contract.
The England international ended that season with a respectable 14 goals in the league and 21 in all competitions.
Now, fast-forward the clock three years to the present – Walcott will be in the last year of his contract this summer. Similar circumstances? Definitely not! The player doesn’t hold the upper hand any more.
The arrival of new players like Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck and the emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have quite literally pushed Theo Walcott to the fringes of the starting eleven.
Even though Arsenal’s no.14 has pace to burn any defence, he doesn’t provide the work ethic, trickery and dribbling skills of the aforementioned players. Not to mention a clear lack of defensive nous.
The speedy-winger last started a game for Arsenal on February 10 in a 2-1 win against Leicester City. He hardly contributed anything in the game but did manage to score a crucial goal. There might be any number of reasons behind his omission from the starting eleven since then. Wenger might be easing him into the team after his lengthy injury layoff or the Gunners boss simply doesn’t consider him as first choice in his position, or this time maybe it’s Wenger who’s playing hardball in contract negotiations.
Back in November, Wenger said in a press conference that the club had opened transfer negotiations with the player’s representatives.
Earlier this month, Wenger had this to say about his player’s contract situation (as reported by Daily Mail):
“The first contacts have been established with the embassy. We will see how that progresses politically. He is very quick on the pitch but off the pitch, not always.”
Quite sarcastic, huh?
Clearly Wenger is not happy with the way the forward’s representatives are handling negotiations here. On the other hand, this week Walcott flatly denied that any contract negotiations are going on. We can only speculate what’s going on behind the scenes but a wise man’s guess would be that player’s representatives are trying to bend the club’s arm into another contract once again.
The 37-time England international for sure adds another dimension to our game with his pace and his ability to get behind the defence and I would love to see him stay at the club. But in no universe does he deserve a increase £100,000 per week wages when a player like Santi Cazorla is apparently on less.
Agreeing to his demands might send the wrong message to the dressing room and encourage other players’ representatives to push for bumper pay packages in the future.
Will he Sign Da Ting this time? Only time will tell but one thing is for sure: Theo Walcott is not indispensable to the club any more.