Why Arsenal Should Cash in on Theo Walcott This Summer
Writer Chris Weir looks at why it might finally be time for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to cash in on Theo Walcott this summer. See what he has to say here
Robbie Fowler knows a thing or two about football. Writing in his column for The New Day, the former Liverpool forward was scathing about Theo Walcott’s inclusion in the latest England squad. “He’s not scoring for Arsenal so is clearly picked for what he’s done in the past”.
It’s a hard point to argue with. On form alone, Theo Walcott shouldn’t be anywhere near the England squad as they fly out for Euro 2016 in June. It’s been another lukewarm season for the Arsenal player, who has seen his place in the England line-up come under threat from the likes of Raheem Sterling, Jamie Vardy, Adam Lallana and Arsenal team-mate Danny Welbeck. 4 goals in 22 appearances isn’t the form of a striker who can lead a team to glory in France this Summer.
When Arsenal signed him from Southampton in January 2006, the comparisons with Thierry Henry were natural, if premature. Walcott had broken into the first team on the South Coast, scoring some tremendous goals and terrifying defences with his searing pace. He looked like a player with a bright future, and Arsene Wenger enthused; “He is a talented player with huge potential”.
Almost 11 years later, we’re still waiting for the spark to ignite. For every hat-trick against Croatia in Zagreb, there have been two many anonymous performance’s like the one he gave in the recent 3-2 loss to Manchester United.
It’s a bitter pill for some Arsenal fans to swallow. Those with longer memories will recall how, in the wake of Robin van Persie’s depature and the earlier transfers of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, he stalled for months on an improved contract. At the time Gooners were apoplectic about the thought of seeing another big name leave the club. Walcott took advantage of the clubs’ weakened position by securing a contract that arguably paid more than what he was worth, with a wage reportedly around £100,000 a week.
If you broached the possibility of a Walcott departure this summer, the reaction amongst fans may not be so strong. On the wing, Joel Campbell has proved a more than able replacement, making up for his relative lack of pace with a vision and pass that has proved effective this year. Alex Iwobi, meanwhile, was being frantically courted by the English FA last week as a result of his mature and promising performances.
Further forward, Walcott has never really convinced despite claims that it is his natural position. He lacks the frame and technique to compete against Premier League defences, and is third choice behind Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck, with the latter looking so energised since returning from injury. Arsene Wenger’s continued reluctance to deploy him as a striker speaks volumes, despite the coach admitting that finishing was one of the players’ foremost strengths.
Walcott has always seemed very ‘nice’. He is an eloquent speaker, media-friendly and polite, without even the slightest blot on his record. Like Arsenal as a team, however, he seems to lack a competitive edge that sets the good players apart from the best.
At 27, Walcott is at an age where his trademark pace will begin to fade. If Arsenal were ever to sell (and they may do – Wenger has a history of selling players just as they reach or surpass their peak), it would be within the next 12 to 18 months, with the player coming into his prime and thus attracting the biggest transfer fee. Liverpool have been perennial suitors, a club who Walcott admitted supporting as a boy, and this may be a natural solution for both the clubs and the player involved.
Of course, such is Walcott’s potential (even at this late age), it wouldn’t be a huge surprise for him to go on a fantastic scoring run, just as he did back in 2013-14 where he scored 14 goals and assisted 12 in 32 League games. But the longer he goes without fulfilling on his early promise on a regular basis, the more Arsenal fans will be wondering – is he worth it?
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