Walcott’s well-documented contract saga has dragged on since the summer – the Englishman has failed to sign a new deal at the Emirates due to his wage demands being denied by the club.
The 23-year-old winger has set his price at £100,000 a week in wages but Arsene Wenger has stuck to his frugal guns and taken a strong stance on the offer of a maximum of £75,000.
Subsequently, the England international has been benched for the majority of the new season – making 7 league appearances, almost entirely as a substitute. However, this has failed to hamper the form of the winger, who has now taken his goal tally to 7 in all competitions.
Walcott has also claimed he would prefer a more central role in the Gunners’ line-up, as a striker – something which his manager Arsene Wenger has all but dismissed.
But after resuscitating the North Londoners’ League Cup ambitions after an appalling 4-0 start at the Madejski Stadium in midweek, should Wenger reassess his assertions about the player?
Walcott’s goal to game ratio is now higher than the Premier League’s top goalscorers – former Arsenal striker and the 2011 PFA and PWA Player of the Year Robin van Persie and Newcastle United frontman Demba Ba.
Arsenal have let a number of their best players go in recent seasons – van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Alex Song, Samir Nasri, Gael Clichy, Emmanuel Adebayor and Ashley Cole – with the majority granted moves to their Premier League rivals.
Until Tuesday night, Walcott looked set to follow their tradition – he is linked with January moves to either Liverpool or Chelsea, something which Arsenal reluctantly might be forced to abide rather than allow him to leave on a Bosman next summer.
But I would suggest Arsene Wenger may review his options – they could conceivably just grant Walcott his wish to play as a striker – whilst he’s been inconsistent in his appearances on the right flank for both club and country, his finishing technique and ability are undeniable.
And for the player who now earns £60,000 a week, would £100,00 for one of their best players really be as bad as seeing him score goals for one of their biggest rivals?
Perhaps Arsenal should just take the hit – and take one for the team. Otherwise, they face the familiar narrative of seeing one of their young talents enter his peak at another club.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald