According to ESPN journalist Mattias Karen on his official Twitter account, Southampton have been dealt a huge blow in their attempt to bring Arsenal winger Theo Walcott back to the club during the January transfer window after Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said he ‘wants him to stay’.
Well, the 28-year-old has emerged as one of the south coast outfit’s top targets this month as they look strengthen their attacking options having only scored 21 times in their 22 Premier League matches so far this term – a record that has contributed to them only lying outside of the relegation zone on goal difference.
Mauricio Pellegrino is keen to bring the England international back to St Mary’s 12 years after he left for Arsenal as a 16-year-old, and he would have been hopeful of doing so with the winger struggling for game time in the English top flight having only featured for a total of 49 minutes across five substitute appearances.
However, Wenger’s latest comments suggest that he isn’t ready to let Walcott – who has 18 months left on his contract – leaving during the current window.
According to Mattias Karen on Twitter, the Frenchman said…
Wenger on Theo Walcott: "I want him to stay. I heard about (Southampton links) yes, but personally I want him to stay."
— Mattias Karén (@MattiasKaren) January 5, 2018
Probably not but it could depend on a few things.
Firstly, whether Alexis Sanchez stays or goes this month will certainly have an impact, as Wenger will lose an attacking option if the Chile international is sold now rather than leaving for free in the summer.
In addition it could also depend on Olivier Giroud’s recovery time with the France international currently sidelined with a hamstring injury, although he is expected back in action soon.
They may have to wait a few weeks longer, but that certainly isn’t an ideal scenario given the position they find themselves in.
Given that Walcott is keen to play regularly to try and reclaim his spot in Gareth Southgate’s England squad before the World Cup in the summer, perhaps if he pushes a little more for an exit then a deal may be more likely to go through sooner rather than later.