The contract situation between Theo Walcott and Arsenal has reached a critical point, with reports emerging that the player has rejected a £75,000 contract offer just days away from the end of the transfer window.
The BBC’s David Ornstein reports talks are still ‘ongoing’ between both parties, but with Friday’s deadline racing ever closer, you can guarantee it is Arsenal’s patience that is hanging by a thread.
If Theo Walcott really did want to sign a contract with Arsenal, it would have been done just prior, or just after, the Euros. The fact that Thomas Vermaelen and Laurent Koscielny could sign new deals on what seemed like the first meeting between the sides shows how smoothly talks can progress with players that genuinely want to stay with the club.
The reported demands of 100,000 a week would create a seismic shift in the dressing room, with Walcott placed as the club’s highest earner. That’s with Vermaelen, Podolski, Cazorla and Sagna looking on. As Ashburton Grove puts so well, would you be satisifed that signing Theo to this deal would be in the club’s best interests?
Walcott’s demands stink of someone looking for the money, rather than any connection to the club. I think we’ve all been burnt badly enough by the Fabregas and RVP sagas to know that player loyalty and connection to the club is a thing of the past. But footballers continue to plumb the depths of disappointment. Here is a man who has continues to show flashes of what Wenger sees in him, and surrounds it with doughy sandwiches of nothingness.
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Player profile: Theo Walcott
£75,000 a week is plenty of money to give to an impact sub. To this day, Walcott’s role remains no more effective than a player to come off the bench and use his pace to beat tired defenders. He has continuously failed to cement a spot in the team and show dynamism and intelligence to mix up his play and provide different kinds of danger to opponents.
Yet because he’s English and obviously chats to his mates in the England camp, he feels he is worth something on par to those players who’ve won the Premier League, Champions League and assorted cups which he so far as failed to grab himself.
While RVP was banging in the goals last season, Walcott’s limited role in getting to the byline and popping in a pass to the league’s leading goalscorer was acceptable as a stop-gap tactic. But his inability to provide something different from the right wing and score on a consistent basis means his true worth in RVP’s absence is even more telling.
While Walcott was an Arsenal player, I was never a fan of the boo-boys who would endlessly slate him while he was on the pitch. You cannot hope for a player to produce consistently in that environment. While often frustrated, I always held on to the belief that he would come through, given those sparkling moments he had produced throughout his time with us.
That goal above hinted at so much more than what was to come. The two goals against Birmingham in that fateful Eduardo match in 2008 seemed to signal his arrival proper, before that mind-altering run against Liverpool in the Champions League showcased Theo’s ability to the world.
I felt like I was one of Theo’s silent encourage-ers, rather than a boo-boy. Sure, I’d throw a tantrum in front of the telly whenever something didn’t come off, but I felt there was more than enough there to back Theo, rather than slate him. But this impasse over money throws that back in my face.
Walcott was always one of the better finishers at the club, with a wonderful right foot dink that brought some memories back of a certain Thierry Henry. Perhaps his pace and the number 14 on his back gives Theo a misconception of his place in the eyes of the fans, but he will never have the physique of Henry nor his imagination.
Some may say that Walcott was never given the proper chance as a striker like Henry was when he arrived at Arsenal. But Wenger is an astute judge of ability on the training pitch. Henry arrived at Arsenal a shell of what he became, having undergone a tortuous time as a winger at Juventus. Almost as soon as he arrived at Arsenal, Wenger played Henry as a forward. The rest is history.
Walcott clearly hasn’t convinced on the training pitch to be given enough of that chance. His speed is the only factor that gets him a look in, and thus he’s shunted onto the wing.
He’s been linked with Liverpool and Man City, but neither of those clubs will play him up front. City have too many established forwards as it is, and Liverpool’s Brendon Rogers likes his pacy wingers feeding poachers like Graham at Swansea, and now Suarez at Liverpool.
If he goes in the last two days of the transfer window, I’ll only be sad for a player who never reached the level he should have. Who knows, perhaps he’ll be a late bloomer for his new club, years from now.
But the contract situation shines a different light on Walcott, whose advisers have obviously painted a picture of him that is much further from reality than he realises.
In other news, I’ve been working on a few different sections of the website. There are player profiles to explore, with bios written up for Vermaelen, Arteta and Walcott. All of the player ratings are getting compiled too to see how overly-harsh I was at season’s end. Enjoy.