It’s barely news now when you read, ‘top Arsenal player, (insert name here) has refused to sign a contract / has Barca DNA and wishes to leave the North London club’. Rather than absorb the information as news, said line could just be a line from one of many high profile transfers away from the Emirates Stadium, with Theo Walcott apparently the latest on the conveyor belt leading out of the Emirates, according to The Telegraph.
As the report goes, Walcott’s representatives rejected a ‘lucrative’ contract extension over the weekend, with fresh talks beginning earlier today at some stage. The Telegraph have it down as Liverpool being interested, along with Manchester City who had a bid rejected for Swansea City winger, Scott Sinclair earlier today. Liverpool being interested makes sense as they have no right winger other than the masquerading Glen Johnson, and Manchester City as they need genuine pace in their team. Plus, it’s Manchester City, and they love an Arsenal player or six.
Being realistic, this news had been coming throughout the summer. The second that Walcott and his ‘representatives’ stalled talks for two months and played the field looking for more lucrative offers, it was clear that Walcott wanted to be somewhere else. If Theo ‘loved’ the club as much as John Cross said he did on the Arseblog arsecast the other day, then he wouldn’t have left a decision so important as a new contract to dwindle down to the last minutes of the transfer window. Walcott has played the game, reportedly refused a new contract and it wouldn’t surprise me if his sale was announced in a few days. I doubt very much that he would have rejected a new contract if there hadn’t been early talks with other clubs. Thus, rather than risk losing him on a free next year, Arsenal will have to force the sale through for a potentially cheaper price than what they would have envisioned and his new club get an England international on the cheap.
So, if Walcott does leave Arsenal, what does he give to his new employers in terms of quality? Well, first, there is great heading techni… I mean he’s really good at running, like, he’s really quick and stuff. Add to that, Walcott has, in his own words, showing consistent inconsistencies throughout the past two years of his career. As I always says, it’s not about your productivity stats when you’re a young player as that’s not important due to being on a roller coaster of a learning curve. By the age of 23, stats should be indicating what kind of player you’re going to be and since the 2010/11, which Theo started as a tender twenty year old, Theo has scored seventeen league goals over two seasons and assisted another fifteen. From wide a position in a team that regularly plays against teams sitting deep, Walcott manages to find the net with great regularity for a winger. Jesús Navas, also a winger and three years Walcott’s senior, has never scored more than Walcott has in a season, though did manage to assist a remarkable fifteen goals in La Liga last term.
The consistencies in Walcott’s game are the ability to find an end product if given the chance. Over the past two seasons, as is evident from his stats, Walcott has added finishing and assisting as strings to his bow of talent. What is inconsistent however, is Walcott’s ability to excel in other areas of the game. For example, Walcott’s passing is only very average, he can’t play in front of a defence and his first touch isn’t amazing. There will be some matches where he excels in these qualities, but not his inconsistency is that he can’t do some of the more basic things required to be a top football player.
Saying that, Walcott is only 23 years old, with time still on his side, which is remarkable when you consider how long he’s been around. He can still develop into something great and at Arsenal, well, there’s no better place to do that under the tutelage of Arsène Wenger.
What will Arsenal miss? Well, for his talent, Walcott isn’t the finished article as I said, so he is replaceable and clearly there are better players on the market who Arsenal could sign, but what irritates me is what Walcott represents for the future and what Arsenal could potentially lose in the future by selling Theo.
If Theo is to realise his potential, then it seems it will be done so away from the Emirates Stadium and in years to come. Selling Walcott wouldn’t hurt Arsenal immediately, but what he could become is what would hurt if he becomes the player he should be.
*Did no one have the humanity to tell Theo that Kenny Dalglish was sacked as Liverpool manager months ago before rejecting a new contract? Kenny would have offered Theo the keys to Liverpool for his signature!