Walcott, who has made appearances from the bench in Arsenal’s last three Premier League games, received a mixed reception from the Gunners faithful in their 6-1 victory over Southampton after having yet to sign a new contract worth £75,000-a-year at the Emirates.
Wenger admits however, that he is still confident of securing a new contract for the 23-year-old in the next few weeks: “At the moment I still hope to extend his contract so at the moment, it doesn’t affect me. Of course at some stage – if in April, if it’s not done – you can think it will be difficult to do.”
Wenger’s fear of losing Walcott is warranted after losing star players in the past such as Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie after eventually failing to agree contract extensions at the club.
The Arsenal boss hopes that the mixed reception Walcott received on Saturday will not have an effect on his confidence and form.
“I think you want your players to be supported no matter what kind of contractual situation they are in. I hope it will not affect him that it will not affect our fans,” he said.
Although frustrated at Walcott’s seemingly lack of willing to sign a contract as soon as possible, Wenger says he has always admired the winger for his professionalism.
“He has gone through, at 23 years of age, a lot, Theo, you know. A lot of positives, a lot of negatives and he’s level-headed. I don’t know what they do at Southampton but they bring players out, Chamberlain and him, with their feet on the ground,” Wenger added.
Walcott, who was thought to be of interest to Juventus, Liverpool and Manchester City in the summer, is expected once again to start on the bench tonight as Arsenal begin their search for their maiden Champions League title in France against Montpellier.