Hot on the heels of the news that Arsenal had triggered Jamie Vardy’s release clause, came the story that Theo Walcott has a future in north London as long as he plays out wide, but would he even still be here if Danny Welbeck was fit?
The forward, who has tried his hand (or foot?) at playing up front in recent seasons with varying degrees of success, probably felt his blood run cold when the news broke that we were trying to sign the Leicester City striker on Friday evening.
Vardy scored 24 Premier League goals last season and Theo only scored five. Granted, he was injured for a large portion of the season, but there’s only so long we can carry him and he’ll be more than aware of this. He’s not stupid.
This explains why, according to the Telegraph, the 27-year-old has readily agreed to play out wide should the signing of Jamie Vardy be finalised. After a decade in north London and hardly any progress, he now knows that his position in the squad, let alone first team, is fragile. If he carried on insisting he was an out-and-out striker, this could be all the incentive Arsene Wenger needed to sell him to West Ham, no matter how vehemently the Hammers deny the links.
This leads me to the thought which prompted the title of this piece: Has Danny Welbeck’s injury saved Theo Walcott’s Arsenal career?
If Welbeck hadn’t, tragically, injured his knee against Manchester City just a couple of games from the end of the 2015/16 season, do you think we would be so adamant in our search for a striker right now? As much as many of us would have liked us to be, I’m not so sure.
Walcott has seemingly been kept as an insurance policy. Although there are a few links to West Ham here and there, this seems to be the only rumour that persists. Everything else points to the forward staying in north London. Wenger likes Theo and he wouldn’t ‘bin him’ without careful consideration but, in my opinion, if Welbz was still fully fit, steps would have already been put in place for Theo to leave or we’d at least be hearing a lot more about it.
Danny’s knee injury has given Theo, as far as we know, another chance. His exclusion from the England Euro 2016 squad has led him to hire a new fitness coach. He’s got a whole summer to build up his fitness and concentrate on preparing for next season. If he wanted, 2016/17 could be a brilliant year for him. If he looks at this like a wake-up call and a second chance, he could finally reach his potential and become an integral part of the team once again.
This could essentially save his career.
I really hope it does.