Ralph Hasenhuttl has suggested that it is still Southampton’s plan to sign Theo Walcott on a permanent basis this summer, which would be a huge mistake considering his less than impressive form since joining on loan from Everton.
The 32-year-old winger is out of contract with the Toffees this summer and reports suggest that he will join the Saints on a permanent basis ahead of next season, having spent the 2020/21 campaign on loan with the south coast club.
When asked about the possibility of the former Arsenal man joining this summer, Hasenhuttl said: “I think in the games he played he has shown that he was an important part of our game – especially his workload and effort.
“He’s a very professional guy and, as I always say, I was happy he was coming here and I still think he’s a player that can help us in the next few years.
“If he’s not always playing from the beginning, then he’s still such a good character that he supports the team whenever he needs to. I think this is for me a very important part for giving him a new contract or not.”
The Englishman has made 19 appearances in the Premier League this season, contributing just two goals and three assists, which has led to him averaging a less than impressive 6.54 average match rating for his performances from WhoScored.
Following last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Liverpool, Hampshire Live‘s Tom Leach gave him a measly three in his player ratings, writing that “his form seems to have vanished during the second half of the season”.
This ranks him as the 10th-best performer in Hasenhuttl’s squad so far this season, so it would be difficult to claim that Walcott has set the world alight and is deserving of a permanent contract.
Although the experienced winger is likely to take a significant pay cut on the £100,000 per week he reportedly earns at Everton in order to join Southampton this summer, there will surely be better, younger and cheaper options for the Saints to seize upon, and it feels as this signing is for Walcott’s benefit rather than Southampton’s.
The £5.4m-rated winger will likely have no resale value either, as he will probably finish his career with the Saints, so his permanent signing doesn’t really make any sense from a financial perspective.
Therefore, when you consider all of these factors, along with his less than impressive recent form, it is certainly fair to suggest that Hasenhuttl is heading for a big mistake by offering him a permanent contract.