Arsene Wenger has once again reaffirmed his desire to keep Theo Walcott at the club, insisting not only that the England international has a future at Arsenal, but also that his future lies as a striker.
This may be nothing more than pandering from the Frenchman however, as he did something similar last time the 26-year-old was stalling on a new deal.
As the Daily Mail reports, Walcott is unwilling to put pen to paper at least until the end of the season – if he does at all. With just over 12 months remaining on his current contract, it’s imperative that we either tie him down, or let him go this summer.
Wenger insists that he wants to keep the pacy wideman at the club though, and claims he will eventually be a striker.
“He’s at the best age now. Being 26 to 32 as a striker is the best age as a striker and I wouldn’t like to miss that golden age,” Wenger is quoted as saying (via Arsenal.com).
“I think his position will be striker. I work with him in both situations, as a striker and as a wide player. But the quality of the runs is so fantastic with the pace he has. When he was younger he was rushing his finishing but he is a good finisher now.
“He can be transformed. He is naturally gifted to play in this position.”
These comments are not dissimilar to those made by the manager back in 2012, just months before Walcott penned his new deal.
“I always said that I want to keep him,” Wenger said back in 2012 (via The Independent).
“I always said that he will be a striker so we are on the same wavelength there. He has something, first of all he is a good finisher now.
“[He showed the] quality of the striker that you cannot give to anybody. You feel it or you don’t. He has the qualities to play there.”
Walcott seemed somewhat satisfied by Wenger’s words back then, and opted to extend his stay at the Emirates – albeit with a shorter term deal than many would have liked. The manager looked to be sticking to his word, and deployed the speedster as a lone striker for a while. He enjoyed some success in the role, but made us rather one dimensional.
The combination of injuries and better options up front soon saw Walcott’s time as a striker come to an end, but despite Wenger seemingly unwilling to even give him a game at the moment – never mind as a striker – the boss is adamant that he will eventually make the transition to striker.
Wenger clearly wants to keep Walcott at the club, and may be willing to do anything to convince him to stay. He knows the former Southampton man has aspirations of playing as a striker, and might be willing to tell him what he wants to hear in order to keep hold of him.
After putting so much time into Walcott it would be a real shame to see him leave, and with just a year left on his current contract we probably wouldn’t get the fee Wenger would be hoping for. Hopefully the boss’ ploy works, and Walcott puts pen to paper on a new deal.