By Nick Lander
Theo Walcott, 23, is reported to have turned down Arsenal's latest contract offer. The England winger is currently earning around £60k per week at the club, with his current deal expiring at the end of the season.
The club are understood to have tabled an offer of a five year deal worth around £75k per week. Walcott, however, is understood to be holding out for a contract worth nearer £100,000 per week. Still largely unproven, Walcott's form and fitness has fluctuated wildly during his time at the club so far, but his last two seasons have probably been his best. He managed 11 goals and 13 assists during 2011/12, many of his assists going to Robin van Persie, who's sale Walcott is said to be concerned about.
Domestically, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City have been linked with moves, but the Gunners' London rivals are unlikely to sanction a move, having already spent in the region of £80m on attacking talent this summer.
Liverpool is perhaps Walcott's most likely destination. A boyhood fan, the Reds are believed to be ready to match Walcott's wage demands, and he would be likely to be able to hold down a starting berth on Mersyside. City on the other hand, are interested in him as a squad player, with their £6.2m move for Swansea's Scott Sinclair stalling. They are also happy to meet his wage demands, and possibly exceed them, but he would rarely start. It has been suggested that the Citizens would include striker Edin Dzeko as part of a deal, with Arsene Wenger understood to be on the look out for another new striker.
The Gunners are said to be prepared to wait 48 hours for Theo Walcott to decide whether or not to accept their offer, otherwise they will be prepared to sell him for upwards of £12m on deadline day.
Theo Walcott looked to be on very good form over pre-season, but struggled (like most of the rest of the team) against Sunderland, and was only a substitute against Stoke. I believe he looks set for his best season in an Arsenal shirt, and that it would be a real shame to see a player who still has a lot of potential sold, especially as he is still believed to want to remain at the club. It would not surprise me if Walcott is not sold this month, even if he does not commit to a new deal, I suspect that a January sale would be much more likely were he to decline to extend his stay in N5.
Both parties are said to remain hopeful of agreeing a new deal soon.
Want to know why I think Theo Walcott is so important to Arsenal? Read my Arsenal Zone column for July here.
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