In a week where Arsenal have taken great steps to secure the long term future of many of their young stars, there is one player who's contract remains stubbornly unsigned. Theo Walcott is still at loggerheads with the club over deal, with issues over the basic wage demanded, and his preferred role as a striker still in dispute.
Arsene Wenger has recently commented on the situation by suggesting the player should give back to the club who gave him an opportunity as a teenager, saying that the club took a risk by playing Walcott when he was still developing. Wenger also said that Walcott is an Arsenal man, in contrast to the situation with Cesc Fabregas, who returned to his childhood club when he left the Emirates.
But is it fair to expect that Walcott should show more loyalty to the club? After all Arsenal signed him from Southampton, where he spent six years developing in their youth academy, and there was no questioning of his loyalty then from the Arsenal manager. Walcott made that move because clearly Arsenal could offer him something that Southampton couldn’t, and this could be the case again now.
At this stage of his career, Walcott seems to be now looking for three things: the chance to compete for trophies, to play as a striker, and as high a wage as he can get. Arsenal can offer him the first of those things, but have been reluctant to meet his other two demands. With Walcott impressing in the striker role in the chances he has had this season, perhaps they will be able to meet that request as well, which leaves the wage issue. If Arsenal are not prepared to meet his demands, the chances are high that another team will.
Providing that other team can also offer Walcott a striker role and as a good a chance of success, then it is a lot to expect the player to turn that down on the basis of loyalty to the club, and the England player could argue that just as it was the right time to leave Southampton in 2006, it is the right time to leave Arsenal now.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald