Everton are in need of a Deadline Day miracle to offload Theo Walcott before the market slams shut at 11pm, despite interest from Southampton in a potential loan move for the former England international.
According to the Daily Mail, Southampton are hopeful of sealing an emotional return to St Mary’s for Walcott 14 years on from the winger joining Arsenal aged 16, but will require help from Everton in getting a temporary transfer across the line.
The Saints are understood to be in open communication with the Toffees, however any activity on the south coast will hinge on Everton subsiding part of Walcott’s £100,000-per-week contract, which the Blues are currently reluctant to accept.
Everton chiefs have considered the winger’s future heavily approaching Deadline Day and expect to see the 31-year-old depart Merseyside, even if a permanent deal would see the Goodison Park natives receive little or no transfer fee, per The Athletic.
Walcott is thought to be desperate to be playing regular football this season, but his sizable wage demands are considered a major hurdle in any transfer negotiations.
Being one of Everton’s top-earners has also made Walcott’s situation a prevalent concern this summer as he does not feature in boss Carlo Ancelotti’s plans, while also now being within the final year of his lucrative contract.
It remains to be seen if Everton warm to covering some of Walcott’s wage or if the three-time FA Cup winner will accept a lower offer to re-join Southampton, who consider the 31-year-old to be an experienced addition that will add depth in the wide areas of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side following a string of injuries.
With Walcott expecting a lucrative contract like the one he signed with Everton upon joining the Toffees in 2018, the Goodison Park outfit will be needing a miracle if they are to offload him on Deadline Day.
Everton could get around any wage concerns by following through on The Athletic’s report and offering him to Southampton for free, but the lack of a transfer fee could see the 31-year-old’s representatives push for a greater salary knowing the circumstances of Walcott’s potential arrival.
But no matter the terms of his departure if one occurs, Walcott’s move to Everton in 2018 will go down as one of a major gamble by former Director of Football Steve Walsh that has not paid off, having spent in excess of £20million to sign him from Arsenal.
Added to his wage, Everton have spent more than £34m on Walcott’s capture but in return only seen 11 goals in 85 games and the winger be pushed aside to the point his 12-minute cameo against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday came as his league season debut.
Ancelotti is right to want Walcott gone this summer, but may be left penniless in return as Everton are embarrassed by the expense of what turned out to be a woeful piece of business made by a former club chief.