Theo Walcott signed for Arsenal from Southampton in 2006 for a fee of just under £13 million. He signed as one of the most exciting young strikers that England had seen for a long time. The euphoria that was built up was similar to the attention surrounding Michael Owen when he first broke into the Liverpool side as a teenager.
Now that Walcott has spent several years at Arsenal and is heading towards his mid-twenties, there are questions over whether he will stay at the club. He has already rejected an improved contract worth £75,000 per week which is pocket money compared to some of the wages paid to players in the Premier League. He insists it’s all about his position but he may just have to put his faith in Arsene Wenger.
Wenger has been in the game for a number of years and has been at Arsenal for the majority of his coaching career. Time and time again he has got it right with players he has brought in to the club who have started in one position and then have switched to another during their Arsenal career. Thierry Henry is the perfect case in point. He signed for Arsenal as a winger from Juventus and Wenger turned him into one of the greatest strikers the club has ever seen.
So firstly Walcott needs to have faith in Wenger who has so far shown respectable patience. If he stays at Arsenal he has a manager who knows what he’s doing and what is best for his player and the side. If he moves then he may not meet such great patience from another manager who may throw his toys out of the pram if Walcott starts demanding to play in a certain position.
Another reason Walcott needs to stay at Arsenal is playing time. This may sound contradictory as Walcott has made only four league appearances for Arsenal this season and three of them as a sub. However, this is easy to understand if he’s asking to play as a striker because Wenger is not going to put him in the side ahead of Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski who have both been proven strikers for large parts of their careers.
If Walcott does go to another club, as a striker, then he does not really have the build for a manager to build the side around him as the main attacking focus. At least at Arsenal he has a clear role and a clear job in the side. He could join another team but would find it all the more frustrating because the sort of sides that Walcott would be ideal for are unlikely to pay the cash for him.
Walcott is a small and slender player that would fit in well with the philosophy of a football club like Liverpool or Manchester City in England. The point is he’s better off at Arsenal because he will never get the same level of responsibility and respect at those clubs which he gets at Arsenal. Liverpool could be tempted due to their striker shortage but they have many targets on the radar.
Theo Walcott should remain an Arsenal player for the following reasons: they are willing to pay him more, he has a set role in the side, he has a manager who knows how to use him effectively in different positions, he is settled, he is well liked by the fans and he is protected both on and off the field. Watch this space.