Just a few seasons ago, Theo Walcott was so valuable to Arsenal that they bent to his wage demands in order to get him to renew his contract.
Back then, the club could ill-afford to lose another top player after selling Robin van Persie to Manchester United and while it was dressed up under the guise of ‘wanting to play centrally‘ his demands were all about money and Walcott’s advisers knew they had the club over a barrel.
If you think it was about his position ask yourself how often he’s complained about it since he signed his new deal.
Now, after recovering from the knee injury that kept him out for a year, it’s approaching that time when negotiations will begin again.
This time, however, Walcott’s bargaining position is significantly weaker.
He is not first-choice on the wing with Danny Welbeck being preferred in games where the side are expecting to have to work harder than normal and the team picked against Everton demonstrates that he might even be further down the pecking order than that.
Not that long ago we took an in-depth look at Theo’s importance to this team and it was an issue that divided the writers here.
Paul believes that Arsenal hold the upper hand for more reasons than the ones I’ve mentioned while Helen is convinced that Theo is incredibly important to Arsenal and both pieces add to this recent debate significantly.
Of course, we should be careful not to jump to too many conclusions based on his omission from the starting lineup recently.
Recovering from a serious injury that is still playing on his mind when he goes in to tackles, the medical team could be expected to be careful with him and only use him when they have to.
Alternatively, Wenger could be getting ready for the posturing that inevitably lies ahead when negotiations open. Showing Walcott that he is not guaranteed a spot and is, therefore, expendable, gives the player and his advisers a dilemma and makes it more likely that they will lower to meet Arsenal’s offer rather than demanding Arsenal rise to meet theirs.
For what it’s worth, rumours amongst journalists claim that the player has no intention of leaving nor the club any in regards to letting him go.
What this means for Theo’s role in the squad is unclear but if he wants to reclaim his starting spot then he will need to take a long look at his overall contribution to the team.