Theo Walcott will always be a nearly man.
Nearly in terms of being an Arsenal great, anyway.
For a player that promised so much, his career trajectory seems to be declining now and talk of him leaving The Emirates this summer appears regularly within the national press.
There have been sparks of the former Gunners hero potential, though. Against Manchester United earlier in the season, when Arsenal won 3-0, Graeme Souness declared on Sky Sports: “That’s the best I’ve seen Theo Walcott play. His runs off the ball… [meant] he was a threat throughout.”
However, as the season progressed, Walcott has suffered with injuries, and to a large degree, the 27 year old has been kept out of the squad by the emerging Alex Iwobi. With only 15 starts in the Premier League this season for the Gunners, and finishing only two of those, he’s out of favour at the Emirates.
Arsenal fans have been vocal in their criticism of the England international this season. He’s faced accusations of being lightweight, ineffective and inconsistent. However, he’s still managed 85 goals in 337 appearances for the club.
Social media went wild when stories of a possible £20m move to West Ham surfaced. Hammers fans reacted negatively, whilst Gunners fans were offering to drive the player to Upton Park. How fortunes change.
Walcott celebrated his 10-year anniversary at the club in January after joining from Southampton as a 16-year-old. But the club’s longest-serving player remains far from fulfilling the promise of his talent and his career may have to be rejuvenated elsewhere.
Wenger has admitted that Walcott’s future is in doubt, even recently, but he still admires the player and said: “He works very hard, he puts the effort in in training. At the moment, for him and Giroud it’s a bit more difficult, but that’s part of the competition,” Wenger said. “He understands that as well, and he fights very hard. But in our job things can change quickly from one week to the next.”
But is Walccott best suited in the centre of Arsenal’s attack or on the right flank, where he spent most of his career? Wenger said even the forward seems to struggle to make up his mind when he’s on the pitch.
“The problem with Theo is he wants to play on the right and through the middle. You have to fix yourself somewhere. When he does go through the middle he thinks maybe it’s better for me on the right,
“It’s true that I fixed him more through the middle, because of the quality of his runs and the intelligence of his runs. And he has improved his finishing a lot, so he can be a player through the middle. On the flanks today you have to work very hard defensively.”
So it appears that the England man has a decision to make. His failure to make the provisional EURO 2016 squad for England caps a disappointing season and it’s hard to see him regaining his England status if he can’t get into his club’s first XI.
From being a 17 year old with promise and going to the 2006 World Cup finals with Sven’s England, Walcott will now sit at home with most of us and watch it as an outsider. Walcott tweeted: “I wish Roy and all the team the best of luck for a successful EUROs.”
The response from Arsenal fans was much clearer and damning and would have left Walcott in no doubt that his time at Arsenal is coming to an end. An end with unfulfilled promise.