In 2006, a 17-year-old Theo Walcott had the world at his feet, having recently signed for Arsenal for £5million.
Walcott was destined to be a superstar and play a massive role for club and country.
However, the player has never truly lived up to his exceptional potential. He has always been on the cusp of something great without breaking through the barrier into stardom.
The England international has just signed a new four year contract with the Gunners, with his wages reportedly moving up to around £140,000-a-week, making him one of the best paid players at the club.
But the fear is that this is a bad move for the 26-year-old forward.
Despite being the current longest serving player at the Emirates Stadium, he has never established himself as a regular starter in Arsene Wenger’s team, instead coming off the bench as an impact player.
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Walcott has scored 50 goals for Arsenal in 208 league appearances during his time at Arsenal, with only 132 of those appearances as a starter. When he does play he is often one of the best players on the pitch, and is a constant attacking threat.
Theo’s main attribute is his blistering pace. He prefers to get control of the ball and run at opponents, using that speed to unsettle the defenders and carve out chances.
His technique is one of his weaker attributes, though, and arguably the main reason why he has found himself out of the starting eleven.
Arsenal prefer to play with quick short, sharp passes, constant movement and are always looking to retain possession.
Big money signings, including Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil command starting berths ahead of Walcott, with the likes of Santi Carzola, Aaron Ramsay, Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxelade Chamberlain also contributing towards keeping Walcott out of Arsene Wenger’s starting XI.
Their technical attributes are more suited towards the excited possession football Wenger’s team are renound for.
His main positional rival, Alexis Sanchez, is the Gunners’ main star and a focal point in every attack. He can create a goalscoring opportunity out of nothing.
Carzola and Ozil are exquisite on the ball, their vision and ball retention is sublime. Aaron Ramsay is the best all round midfielder Arsenal; have he is comfortable doing everything and the likes of Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain are more versatile than the speedster.
Walcott has even tried to change his position to improve his chances of nailing down a starting berth up front, but this is a battle he is never going to win.
Olivier Giroud is Arsenal’s leading man, he is everything Wenger could possibly want from a striker. The Frenchman scores goals for fun, holds up the play brilliantly and is comfortable on the ball enough to involve himself in the build up.
Walcott doesn’t really possess any of those qualities and wouldn’t be effective as the lone striker.
There are much better clubs for Walcott, places where he could reach the heights of his potential and play in the desired striking role he has coveted for a long time.
Manchester United, for example, the club are short of attacking talent following the departure of his former team mate Robin van Persie and Walcott would fit in perfectly alongside England compatriot Wayne Rooney.
Rooney is known for coming deep to get himself involved in the play, this would work perfectly with Theo playing off the last defender. Rooney’s vision and technique would provide so many opportunities for the pacey forward.
Walcott has made a mistake extending his time at the Emirates and, hopefully, the player will realise before his international career is affected.