Contract rebel Theo Walcott, who has been previously linked with Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, is now been reportedly monitored by Manchester United. But do United need him?
Walcott demands pay-rise or starting eleven?
Theo Walcott set the cats among the pigeons at the start of the season when he rejected Arsenal’s offer of a new contact. The 23-year-old, who joined the Gunners back in 2006, is in the final year of his contract and is yet to decide on his future at the club.
The English international reportedly rejected the new contract offered by Arsenal at the end of August and no progress has been made since.
Initially, it was reported that Walcott wanted a pay rise as he believes the £75,000-a-week that the Gunners were offering is well below the average of other England internationals earns in other big clubs in the Premier League. But later on, the former Southampton player revealed that his main concern is regarding his position in the starting eleven.
Walcott has publicly voiced his wish to play down the middle as a striker and he wants an assurance from Arsene Wenger about his place in the first team. The signing of Podolski at the start of this season along with the rise of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has provided lot of competition for Walcott in the wide areas.
Wenger has stated his desire to eventually shift Walcott to a central role, but he perhaps feels that the 23-year-old is not ready yet for this change. In absence of Giroud, Arsene Wenger has preferred to start Gervinho in the role of a striker instead of Walcott.
In fact, Walcott has started very few matches since he rejected Arsenal’s contract offer at the start of this season. The winger has started in just five of Arsenal’s 16 league games so far.
As the January transfer window approaches, there is an increasing sense of inevitability airing among the Arsenal fans. Although Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal won’t sell Walcott in January even if he doesn’t sign a new contract, it would be preposterous to lose him for free next season. The Arsenal manager is desperate to retain Walcott and has hoped that the contract issues can be resolved before January.
But big clubs across England are already monitoring Walcott’s situation at the Emirates. Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City are said to be interested in signing the Englishman, who could leave for a cut-price deal during the winter transfer window.
Do United need a winger?
Manchester United is the latest addition in the long list of suitors for Walcott. But the questions that arise – do United need him? What would be the ideal destination for Walcott if he decides to leave Arsenal?
Alex Ferguson’s reported interest in Theo Walcott defies logic. United have a plethora of strikers, arguably the best in the league, so Walcott is unlikely to get a chance to play in that role (which is one of his demands at Arsenal).
Moreover, Sir Alex’s new diamond formation has reduced the role of wingers at Old Trafford and when he does revert back to a 4-4-2 formation, Young and Valencia are sure to get the preference over Walcott. Walcott, for all his talent, is not the greatest of crosser from the wing.
The only possible explanation is that Sir Alex sees Walcott as a replacement for Nani, who is sure to leave in January. But then again, would Walcott (someone whose priority is to play as a striker) join a team to be a second choice winger? Would he join a team which already has Chicharito and Welbeck on the bench?
Walcott’s other possible destinations
Liverpool, a club Walcott supports, are interested in him, but the lack of Champions League football at Anfield will be a draw back. But a move to the other side of London looks more appealing, with Chelsea knocking on the doors.
Chelsea are in search of a striker. They have already been heavily linked with a move for Falcao but Atletico are unlikely to sell their premier striker mid-way through the season. In fact very few big names move during the January transfer window – that is unless they are facing contract issues, like Theo does.
At Stamford Bridge, Walcott will certainly have his opportunity to play as a striker where Fernando Torres is currently the only available option for Benitez and Sturridge looks destined to join Liverpool. Chelsea are also certain to meet his demands of £100,000-a-week wages.
The other big club from Manchester are also capable of hiking his current wage. Roberto Mancini, who desperately wanted to sign Robin van Persie at the start of this season, will also look to bolster his attacking options in January to reignite his team’s title challenge.
With Mario Balotelli’s future in doubts at the Etihad stadium, Walcott’s versatility has drawn Mancini’s attention.
Currently, Chelsea and Manchester City seems to be the most likely destination for the English international if Arsenal fails to negotiate a contract extension. Arsenal are unlikely to take the risk of letting him leave for free next season and this January the Gooners might witness the departure of another of their big name stars.