Brendan Rodgers’ transfer activity hasn’t quite been the immediate catalyst for a reinvigorated fan base that many thought it would be. Then again, there hasn’t been much value in the market and without shifting certain players first it seems unlikely that Liverpool will be spending big any time soon. However, one move that the former Swansea boss does appear to be keen on is Theo Walcott.
The subject of praise and scorn in equal measure, Walcott is not to everyone’s taste. Nevertheless, Liverpool fans should not dismiss the proposed move out of hand. The possibility of a transfer was mooted as far back as March when Kenny Daglish had apparently earmarked the winger as a potential signing for the summer. The Glaswegian may not have made it that far himself but the sentiment seems to have lingered at Anfield.
Walcott is a self-confessed Liverpool fan from his youth. A real one it should be added, not like Robbie Keane who simply masqueraded in a mock children’s bedroom in a Sky Sports studio like some obsessive compulsive stalker because a producer thought it might endear him to the Liverpool fans in spite of his obvious lack of talent. No, Walcott really has been a Liverpool supporter all his life, and has mentioned the appeal of one day playing for the club.
The passing football Swansea played last season may have revolved around the efforts of midfielders like Joe Allen, Leon Britton and Gylfi Sigurdsson but equally important to the success of that style of football were the performances of Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair.
Throughout the season Swansea used the pace of Dyer and Sinclair to stretch opposition defences. Liverpool lacks a winger in this model. Only Raheem Sterling is of a similar ilk and he is, so far, unproven at the highest level. Suarez and Downing can both play out wide yet neither possess the pace to compete with a player like Walcott.
Moreover, whilst many Liverpool fans will doubt Walcott’s ability, Rodgers may be able to bring the best out of him. He helped to develop Sinclair and Dyer in to an incredibly effective pair; between them they scored or assisted 19 goals in the Premier League last season. That equates to 43% of all of Swansea’s league goals last season. Not bad for two wingers playing for a newly promoted side.
It would be foolhardy to suggest that Rodgers would be better at nurturing talent than Wenger but it is hard to deny that Walcott may need a change of scenery in order to realise his potential. Liverpool could be the challenge that helps him grow as player, just as moving to Man City helped Clichy to develop.
You also need to look at it from Walcott’s point of view. Considering his rate of progression, Walcott could reasonably expect to be usurped by Oxlade-Chamberlain this season. It is far from a certainty but will Theo want to sign a new long-term contract when he cannot be sure that he has a starting place at Arsenal in the long term?
The squad for the 2014 World Cup will be decided over the next two seasons and if Walcott cannot guarantee a starting place at his club it seems unlikely that he would be able to for his country. He has already missed one World Cup, he will have that in the back of his mind when deciding his future at Arsenal. Should he decide to leave, Liverpool could offer him a place in the starting eleven with a manager who is known to covet players of his style.
For now, Walcott is an Arsenal player. To suggest, however, that a move to Liverpool could be a good idea for all parties is not unreasonable. Arsenal may prefer a more consistent player, Liverpool need to inject some pace in to their squad and can be reassured by Walcott’s statistics from last season (11 goals and 12 assists) and Walcott can find the assurances on his future that he may want in light of Arsenal’s glut of forwards.