Fresh from his match-winning performance at the Madejski Stadium on Tuseday, Theo Walcott has said he is happy for Arsenal’s sixth goal of the night to be awarded to defender Carl Jenkinson.
The goal would have been Walcott’s third of the game, allowing him to exercise the traditional right of claiming the match-ball after scoring a hat-trick.
After initially being given to the England forward, confusion now surrounds who actually put the ball in the Reading net. However, Arsene Wenger and his team have much more pressing matters to deal with when it comes to Theo Walcott.
With the former Southampton youngster’s contract expiring next summer, he would be free to start talking to other clubs from January and could potentially leave the Gunners for nothing. Since joining Arsenal as a 16 year-old, he has shown glimpses of his promise each season without ever living up to his full potential. He has been unfortunate with injury problems and, at times, has simply struggled to force his way into Wenger’s starting lineup. He is yet to complete 90 minutes in the league this season and, whilst he can provide an extremely effective impact when brought on from the bench, half an hour cameo appearances are not what the forward is looking for.
Then there is the subject of his position. After spending six seasons on Arsenal’s right wing, Walcott feels he is ready to play a as striker. The role is one that was expertly occupied by Robin van Persie last season and, after the Dutchman’s departure to Manchester United, a new hero is needed to step in. However, big money was spent on the signings of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, meaning Walcott’s chances of getting a game up front are still limited. This is especially true as the Gunners prefer to play with a lone striker.
This is not the time for Arsene Wenger to see a player he paid around £9 million for as a teenager walk out on him for free. With Walcott now at 23 years of age and in the prime of his career, what would hurt the most would be seeing him playing his best football at a rival club.
Wenger has set a deadline of Christmas for Walcott to sign a new contract with Arsenal. However, if the England international refuses to commit to the Gunners before January, we could see the French manager forced to cash in on a second player in the space of six months.