It has been reported that Theo Walcott has placed contract negotiations with Arsenal on hold until the summer.
James Olley of the Evening Standard suggests that Walcott is relaxed about his contract situation and waiting to see how Arsenal finish the season, as well as how often he features, before committing himself to the club.
I think that’s all understandable. less understandable is the following: Arsene apparently wants to keep Theo. Theo reportedly has little desire to leave Arsenal and yet there is a growing groundswell of opinion that Arsenal will sell Walcott in the summer.
Not only that, but that they should sell him in the summer. This is new.
I’m not saying that I disagree with this opinion.
I have written previously of my belief that Arsenal should not bend over to satisfy Walcott’s wage demands simply because when I think of Theo, I think of a scene from Steven Spielberg’s classic movie from Jaws.
In trying to explain to the mayor of Amity Island exactly why the beaches should be closed over the fourth of July weekend, Richard Dreyfuss’ oceanographer, Matt Hooper, says,
“Mr. Vaughn, what we are dealing with here is a perfect engine – uh, an eating machine. It’s really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim and eat and make little sharks, and that’s all!”
You can see where I’m going with this, I’m sure.
Like the shark in Jaws, Bruce, Theo is essentially the same perfect engine, but whereas the shark swims, eats (people) and make little sharks, Theo runs very quickly in straight lines and scores goals, “and that’s all!”
I would certainly concede that scoring goals is a highly desirable quality in a winger, of course it is but, as the quality of footballer employed at Arsenal Football Club has risen over the last two and a half years, shouldn’t we be entitled to expect a bit more from the England man?
Put it this way – despite the fact that Alexis’ form has dropped off in since his injury, he never stops working, never stops wanting the ball. A few months back, we saw Santi Cazorla repeatedly bent double, gasping for air, before setting off another lung busting run through the Manchester City midfield. Mesut Özil, for all the ludicrous criticism of him in midweek, was magnificent as he worked tirelessly to get Arsenal on the front foot against Monaco.
On the off chance that you didn’t know, Ozil also routinely covers more distance than anyone else in the team.
These guys are all far better footballers than Theo, so why isn’t Theo working even harder than them? A couple of his recent heat maps have been disgraceful. Against Leicester he made six successful passes in 72 minutes and there was another game recently where he might as well have not been on the pitch.
Six successful passes in 72 minutes, that’s one pass every twelve minutes- how is that even possible?
He carries himself as if he was the second coming of Thierry Henry, but he most certainly is not. He strust about as if he thinks he’s got it made, which- as a fairly limited footballer- I suppose he has.
Or, maybe, had.
As if it isn’t enough that the likes of Cazorla and co. routinely outshine the Englishman, then we see the Ox putting in displays that are regularly more wholehearted and a damn sight more skilful than anything Walcott is capable of.
Of course, there is also Danny Welbeck.
Whilst I would say that Danny hasn’t scored quite as many goals as I would have liked, you can see that the potential to improve is definitely there. More than that, with Welbeck, you see someone always prepared to put a shift in for his team, hence his selection at White Hart Lane, despite the fact that he’d missed a few weeks through injury.
I find it interesting that whilst Olivier Giroud has reacted brilliantly to the arrival of Welbeck, raising his game every week, Walcott seems to have shrunk from the challenge.
But then, Theo would hardly be the first on a list of names you’d want to take into battle with you, would he?
And I think this the root of it for me. Does Theo want it enough?
The guy has basically been our first choice right winger for years, but when he came into the team, he was doing battle with the likes of Emmanuel Eboue.
When Theo signed his contract two winters ago, Arsenal were desperate not to see Theo follow Fabregas and van Persie out the door. Theo used that to his full advantage- as it was his right to do so- and got a pay rise which I think most agree was generous in the extreme.
The equation has changed now.
Since that contract was inked, Theo has missed what amounts to a year of football and, unless you’re Bacary Sagna of course, any new contract comes with a pay rise as standard.
What would that pay rise be for, exactly?
Arsene Wenger now has at his disposal some of the most exciting attacking talent he’s had in a decade and I come around to this central point – Arsenal have lost some genuine legends in the last decade and survived.
Should they now push in excess of £100,000 per week down Walcott’s throat?
Or should they jam a tank full of compressed air into it?
“Smile, you son of a …..!”