Theo Walcott has admitted the contract talks played on his mind in recent matches prior to signing a new deal over the weekend, however his commitment to the Gunners never wavered.
The England internationals initial contract was set to expire this summer, with speculation mounting that Arsenal had come to the realization that they may have to sell the winger this January if a new deal failed to eventuate. But luckily for both parties an agreement was reached for a three-and-a-half year contract that will see Walcott remain at the Emirates until the end of the 2016 season as one of the clubs highest earners.
The 23-year-old admitted that he had to try and block out the thought of the strenuous negotiations while playing, however it has hardly affected his game with the winger-come-striker in form of late, netting a well taken goal against Chelsea on Sunday.
Walcott told Arsenal’s official website:
I am very pleased. For the last three games before [the Chelsea match] it was sort of done, but it was on my mind and had been for a long time because it was so close.
It is difficult to play and block out that side of it, but I tried to do the best I could and hopefully everyone was happy with what I did. I always wanted to stay and I am happy that myself and the Club have come to an agreement.
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There has been so much speculation for so long, and I am very pleased my future is sorted. But it is all about the present now.
The deal further enforces Wenger’s idea that developing English players will help to build a solid, committed backbone to the Gunners squad. The issue with some of the past transfer windows is the sale of French, Spanish and Dutch players that have moved on in their peak as they have not committed their futures to Arsenal, however six British stars have done so over the past month. Hopefully this is a new era for the Gunners and there will not be any star names sold this summer.
One thing I must mention that has made me slightly concerned is the length of Walcott’s contract – three-and-a-half years. It is hardly the long-term five-plus-year-contract that is usually offered to a player of his stature and age, it makes sense for the deal to end in the summer (hence the half-year) but essentially Arsenal will be back to square one and negotiating a new deal in two seasons.
This means either Walcott wants the chance to up his pay package in a few years, or the Gunners want to have the upper hand if his form wavers while on a reported £100k a week salary.
But either way the deal is done and the Gunners can continue the season without any worries of any contract talks (apart from with Frimpong whose terms end this summer also), however Wenger needs to do some business in the market ASAP.