Wednesday marked 10 years at Arsenal for Theo Walcott, and Arsène Wenger has been full of praise for the England forward.
After signing for Arsenal at the age of 16 in January 2006, Walcott went to that summer’s World Cup before even making his Arsenal debut. He is, a decade later, still waiting for his first appearance at a World Cup Finals but that didn’t stop Wenger from praising his player.
“He was a little boy who discovered the world and the World Cup as well,” Wenger said. “10 years later he’s the father of a young boy.
I believe he’s gone through fantastic periods in his life and disappointing periods. He went so young to the World Cup, since he’s not been.”
It’s been a huge learning curve for a player who arrived in north London so young, but Walcott is now a crucial part of the Arsenal team, often scoring in the biggest games of all.
His progression may not have been as spectacular as some people would have hoped, but his talent and desire can’t be questioned.
“He has moved forward – he is very responsible, very focused, very hard working. Today he’s become a very important part of the team.
“He has qualities that hard to find – intelligence of movement and timing of the movement and you don’t find that often in the modern game.”
Currently playing on the left wing, Walcott is struggling for form but the return of Alexis Sánchez will probably see the Englishman return to the right-hand side or the point of the attack at the expense of Olivier Giroud.
Maybe then Walcott will rediscover his very best form.