Reports via Telegraph suggest that Theo Walcott has rejected Arsenal‘s latest contract offer. It was reported that formal negotiations between the player’s representatives and Arsenal were held last Friday. Walcott’s wages are supposed to be the sticking point in the deal, with Walcott desiring something close to the £100,000-a-week mark. His current contract with Arsenal, which expires at the end of this season, gets him £60,000-a-week. Manchester City and Liverpool are believed to be interested in signing the 23-year old winger, with Chelsea not expected to continue their earlier pursuit for the Englishman, after having already spent £80 Million over the summer in transfers.
Walcott joined Arsenal from Southampton as a 16-year old back in the 2005-06 season, and immediately exceeded expectations by getting selected in the England squad for the 2006 season. Having scored his first goal for the Gunners in the 2007 League Cup final against Chelsea, he was purported to be the next big thing in English football, and it did seem so at the time. He was awarded Henry’s legendary No. 14 shirt at the start of the 2008-09 season, after having drawn comparisons with the Frenchman, and claiming to be inspired by the gem of Arsene Wenger’s era. But his career trajectory did not progress quite as planned, and his personal growth slowed down. Whenever he has taken the pitch, he has been the fastest man on it, but has not quite had the impact fans would have liked. After having been dropped out of the 2010 World Cup squad by Fabio Capello, he bounced back with a strong 2010-11 season for Arsenal. His contribution last season has also been noteworthy, racking up a respectable amounts of assists for Van Persie and a fair amount of goals himself, most notably against the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea. But his consistency has always attracted criticism from fans and pundits alike. Money may not be the only complication in his deal with Arsenal, with Gervinho and Oxlade-Chamberlain’s ascent up the pecking order ahead of him. While playing time at Manchester City will be at a premium, the citizens are known to more than make up for it by taking the player wages into an entirely new bracket. With that in mind, going to Anfield may be a better option for Theo (assuming their reported interest is genuine), with wages higher compared to Arsenal, and a better opportunity to play in the first team. But going to Liverpool, of course, would probably mean not getting to play Champions League Football in the near future. The decision would be his, but it can be safely assumed Arsenal are unyielding in their offer around the region of £75,000-a-week.
The departure of Theo Walcott, if and when it happens, is not expected to create as much of a stir at the Emirates, as was with the case of RVP and Song. In Gervinho, they have almost a like-for-like replacement, who makes up for what he lacks in pace by better technical ability. And Oxlade-Chamberlain is eagerly waiting on the sidelines for any first team opportunity that may come his way, though his role this season may be more central than that of a wide-man. Nonetheless, Arsenal were expected to be in the market for a forward anyway, and this development, if true, would only strengthen their pursuit. Regardless, at 23, Walcott is not the player he was expected to develop into, and Arsenal will be happy to release him now at the right price, rather than risking letting him go for free at the end of next season.