After Arsenal’s match against Red Star Belgrade in mid-week, yet another pundit told Theo Walcott he should leave the Gunners. But will he, and if so, when?
Matt Le Tissier said Theo should look for a manager who completely trusts him, after Ian Wright urged Walcott to leave, and Charlie Nicholas also made the same claim about Wenger not trusting Theo, among others.
Nonetheless, another transfer window passed without Walcott leaving, over the summer.
Ever since he was 16 years old Theo has repeatedly made the decision to stay with Arsenal, even if at times it looked like he might not (or should not).
This August, there were some links to Southampton, but those were mostly dashed as unrealistic. Other than that, there weren’t even any strong rumours about interest from outside, so it never seemed particularly likely the 28-year-old would leave.
Rather than the Gunners desperately holding onto the winger, it just didn’t seem like anyone was willing to make a decent offer.
The fear is that unless Theo picks up his form, it’ll be the same story in January, and next summer. However, if he does stay at the same level he’s been at for the recent matches against Norwich and Red Star Belgrade, I can still see him moving on in one of those two windows in a cut price deal.
Walcott’s current contract expires in 2019, at the same time as Arsène Wenger’s. I can’t see an extension being in either party’s interest. But hopefully, the Arsenal boss won’t want to see the Gunners miss out on another transfer fee. With Mesut and Alexis still currently set to leave for free, a Walcott sale in the next year becomes quite likely.
In Reiss Nelson, Alex Iwobi and Eddie Nketiah, Arsenal have plenty of younger options for the front-three coming through. By next summer, I can see Wenger considering at least one of them ready to take over Theo’s role as a back up, so the Englishman would have to prove himself again before then.
I expect it will come down to how Theo performs when given a chance in the Premier League. Play as he did at the start of last season and he could convince Wenger to keep him for the remainder of his peak years.
Otherwise, it’s hard to justify him staying.