Arsene Wenger has pleaded for Theo Walcott to ‘give back to the club’ that put so much faith in him as a youngster and re-sign for the Gunners.
Wenger described Walcott’s £12m move as a “gamble” with the Frenchman placing a huge amount of faith in the then 16-year-old in 2006, and with contract negotiations still stretching on Wenger wants to see his faith repaid.
Walcott will be paid handsomely as he has become one of the key members of the squad despite being only 23, however the club will not be held for ransom in an attempt to keep the star.
Wenger told Skysports:
What is important to keep the young players together is that at some stage I have stood up for them; I played you at 17, 18, 19 years of age and I know I took a gamble.
It is easier to take a player of 25 and put him in the team. You know what you are getting.
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If you put them in at 17 or 18, you have to stand up for them. You risk losing games while they are learning their job. Once you have produced them you want to say, ‘Okay, let’s stay together and win together.’
Somewhere along the line they need to give back to the club what the club has given to them.
When a guy gets to 30, you can understand it is his last contract and if he feels he wants a change. This is a more sensitive age, but basically, it is a reward for our policy.
I am happy to pay Theo the money he deserves, but I feel as well that I bought him at 16 years of age and spent a lot of money on him.
I am a big supporter and I believe he is happy here. Theo has always looked to me like he is an Arsenal man.
Arsenal invested a massive sum for the 16-year-old and he is now approaching his best years. The Gunners is his ideal club for the England international and he will get paid the money he deserves as well as a shot at playing up front.
There are no other clubs that would be a better suited environment for the winger except maybe United but they will not be reinforcing this winter after an expensive window last summer.
Walcott is an essential player that must not be sold this January, and if he fails to agree new terms with the club over the next few weeks I would not rule out the Arsenal board listing the former Southampton starlet in the transfer market.
Speaking of Southampton youngsters, their 17-year-old fullback Luke Shaw has been heavily tipped to join Arsenal in the winter as talks over an improved contract has broken down.
The highly rated left back, dubbed ‘the new Gareth Bale’ has been making waves in his development, and according to reports he could be set for a sensational departure from St Mary’s to the Emirates with his current three year pro deal set to expire in 2015.
The England Under-17 international has yet to enter negotiations over improved terms however manager Nigel Adkins has warned off the Premier League elite as he believes his prodigy as at the best club for playing opportunities, and will be offered a bumper deal when he turns 18 next July.
While Adkins believes Shaw is at the best club, he can hardly deny Arsenal is a brilliant environment for the youngster to develop and a place where youth is given an unprecedented amount of opportunities for a Premier League side. Look at the fixture against Olympiacos a few weeks ago where a series of academy graduates had the unique opportunity to play in the Champions League.
With Santos’ departure seeming inevitable it is time for Wenger to reinforce the left back position and soon. Arsenal could do with a Gareth Bale, however this ones English!