The stagnation or, even, regression of Theo Walcott in the last year or two has his Arsenal future in the balance.
The 27-year-old was an excellent goalscoring wide player who was always supposed to become a striker. The Gunners signed Mesut Özil to load the gun for him but, ever since, Theo has been shooting blanks.
Injuries prevented the England international from featuring much at all last season, though he did score the opener in the FA Cup final. Bar a decent run of form early this season, it’s been another disappointing campaign.
Why would Arsenal keep him?
Well, it might be tough to sell him. On a large wage, Walcott may not attract interest from many clubs. Except, reportedly, Manchester City.
The Citizens are set for a huge revamp under new manager Pep Guardiola, who has allegedly asked Manchester City to watch his situation closely: if Arsenal look to sell, City could swoop.
London Evening Standard are claiming an exclusive which details Guardiola’s interest in teaming up with Walcott at Eastlands.
Since Alexis Sánchez returned from injury in February, Walcott has started just one of the last 12 Premier League games despite being an ever-present in the Arsenal squad. That start came at Old Trafford when one of the worst individual performances imaginable (in an already dreadful team performance) saw the Englishman subbed after an hour.
With that in mind Walcott, who doesn’t seem too unhappy at the club, may be open to leaving. In nine substitute appearances in the league since the beginning of February, four have seen him feature for under 10 minutes.
Guardiola knows full well what Walcott is capable of: as a fresh-faced 21-year-old, the forward tormented Pep’s Barcelona side at the Emirates Stadium to score and then provided an assist at Camp Nou. Those moments, though, have been all too rare for Arsenal fans.
If the Gunners were open to selling, most fans probably wouldn’t mind too much. However, Guardiola is a superb manager and allowing him to have a player with the pace and finishing ability of Walcott would be an enormous risk for Arsenal to take. If Arsène Wenger and co. were happy to let Walcott leave, they will think long and hard before selling him to a rival.