September 25, 2012
Theo Walcott seems to be paving the way for his exit from Arsenal Football Club.
As you’ve no doubt seen by now he’s been talking to BBC Sport about his current contract wrangles and denying that his refusal to sign up to this point has anything to do with money but is really more about wanting to get his chance up front:
I’ve been judged, with people saying it’s all about money. It’s never been that with me. Playing up front is important. It’s one of the main factors for me.
I realise he’s been banging the centre forward drum for years now but I don’t believe for a second that the reason this contract hasn’t been signed is to do with anything other than cold hard cash. I’m pretty sure if Arsenal had sat down and agreed to meet Theo’s rumoured £100,000 a week demands we wouldn’t be having this discussion now. In fact do you really think all of those hours around the negotiating table have been spent talking about whether or not Theo has the physical presence and positional awareness to play as a lone striker in an effective 4-5-1?
The uncomfortable truth is that ‘I’m not driven by money’ is exactly the sort of thing that a player says just before they jump ship and join whichever club offers them the largest signing on fee. And I’m not sure there’s ever been a situation where any fan has been the least bit convinced by it. Let’s just say I didn’t hear very many Arsenal fans leaping to RVP’s defence this year squealing ‘He just doesn’t agree with the direction the club is taking. Come on, guys!’.
We could sit and debate whether or not he has a point regarding his best position. I personally feel he could be an extremely effective striker if he could learn to play off the shoulder of the last defender and utilise that blistering pace to get in behind. I know not many centre backs would want that problem to deal with. Whether he could play as a lone striker in the system we play I’m less sure. But my opinions are fairly redundant anyway because what seems evident up to now is that Arsene Wenger doesn’t fancy his chances too much.
He’s had myriad opportunities over the last few years to play Theo up top and he’s consistently refused to take them. I’d be stunned if he changed his mind having been held to ransom over a new contract. In fact he seems to be going pretty far the other way. Not only am I not going to play you as a striker, I’m not going to play you at all. I’m going to put a midfielder on the right wing and another left winger as a centre forward and I’m sticking you on the bench. For six games in a row.
Seems to me like Arsene Wenger has already spoken.
Theo didn’t sound exactly confident that anything was about to change regarding his deal:
It’s been a slow process.
It’s not going to happen any time soon. My last contract took six months to do. It’s one of those things that is frustrating for me. Hopefully it can be sorted.
As I’ve said before I’d be frustrated to see him leave. Especially on a free obviously. I realise he has limitations as a player but people are unbelievably harsh on a 23 year old who’s notched double figures for both goals and assists for the last two seasons running. There aren’t very many who can say that.
People describe him as little more than a speed merchant but they say that like speed doesn’t count for anything. It really does. He may not have the skills of a Messi but he’s a different sort of player and he offers a different sort of threat.
What’s irritating about his claims for a central striker role is that he has so much freedom in this Arsenal set up that he can virtually play as a striker anyway. Look at the way Lukas Podolski has interchanged with Gervinho in recent games. If he decides to leave would he get that same freedom elsewhere? I’m certainly struggling to think of too many top teams that would field him in his preferred central role.
Chelsea? City? Man United?? I just can’t see it.
But then as I said I really think the talk of his position is just a smokescreen. Because if we’d met his pay demands he’d have signed by now. No doubt about it. And he’d be back to playing on the right hand side of a front three and hopefully continuing his development.
He reckons there’s a chance Arsene Wenger may field him at centre forward tomorrow night in the Capital One Cup clash with Coventry:
I could play up front on Wednesday – that would be a nice gesture.
Arsene Wenger doesn’t seem in much of a mood to take any crap from anyone this season. I’m not convinced being told what would and wouldn’t be a nice gesture on his part is going to sit too well with him, especially from a player he’s been extremely patient with over the years. And I’m not convinced he’s going to allow team selection policy to be dictated to him by a player giving an interview to the media.
Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Theo will start up front in the cup tomorrow and force the boss’ hand with an excellent display and a well taken hat trick.
If not I fear we’re witnessing the dying embers of Theo’s Arsenal career.
If You Liked This...
- Arsene slams door on centre-back move + ‘Fireworks at the Emirates or a Bonfire Nightmare?’ Oh shut up, Gary Lineker
- Wenger tries to make his point but Walcott could just walk away
- Robin set to agree record £32 million deal, but it won’t be about the money
- Wenger suggests switch to 4-4-2 + Cazorlatest
- Theo wants to stay + Arsenal want to keep him = Bye bye, Theo? Welcome to football in 2012