Following almost a year out of football due to a serious knee injury sustained back in January 2014, Theo Walcott has struggled over the last few months to get a run of games. Now with only 15 months left on his Arsenal contract, the winger and his club have been unable to come to an agreement.
Walcott currently earns around £90k-a-week, but is said to want a big rise to well over £100k, though Arsenal are understandably unwilling to meet this. That’s no surprise really, considering that the young man has spent a lot of time suffering with injuries and can’t even secure a place in the starting XI.
The problem is that since the arrival of both Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck there is enough talent and cover in his position. A number of other players are also able to fill the wide position on the right, notably Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Santi Cazorla and Mesut Ozil all of whom have featured in this role.
Walcott is a talented player and has been important for the Gunners in the past but times have changed and the 26-year-old should be more focussed on winning back his place rather than negotiating for more cash.
Question is: would he really be willing to leave Arsenal over money?
According to the Daily Mirror Liverpool are ready to make an offer for him. The Merseyside club might have an important departure of their own this summer, with Raheem Sterling’s contract discussions also breaking down, and Walcott is seen as a worthwhile replacement. Manager Brendan Rodgers is said to be a huge admirer of Walcott and an enquiry was even made by Liverpool to bring the England international to Anfield before he signed his current Arsenal deal.
Sterling is expected to stay at Anfield, though, and the two players will get the chance to link up shortly while on international duty. Both Sterling and Walcott have been included in Roy Hodgson’s England squad to face Lithuania, a 2016 European qualifier, and an international friendly against Italy.
While it is true that Sanchez is hogging Walcott’s positio – the Chilean’s 13 league goals are only helping to further secure his place – it is also true that Walcott is loved by Arsenal supporters and they would be sad to see him go, especially to a top four rival like Liverpool. But Walcott needs to know that next season he’ll get to start a decent amount of games and actually have a good run, otherwise what’s the point in staying.
If Wenger can reassure Walcott that he has an important part to play in Arsenal’s future then he should focus on finishing this campaign strongly and look to fight for his position next season. Either commit to Arsenal and just take whatever offer the club puts on the table or leave for a team that will give him a fresh start and the pay packet he thinks he deserves.
But at no cost should Wenger let him go on a free this time next year.