Arsene Wenger has admitted that Theo Walcott’s contract situation might play a part in his participation for the club this season but has also praised the England international for his level-headedness.
Walcott has yet to start a game for the club this campaign (apart from the one against Sunderland!) after a summer in which he and his representatives played a dangerous game of brinksmanship with the club. They refused Arsenal’s offer of a new contract, hoping that the policy of not allowing players to enter the final year of their deals would force the club’s hand, either with an improved offer or a sale to another club.
With no offers before the transfer deadline, Walcott’s bluff was called and now finds himself in footballing limbo. Asked at his pre-Montpellier press conference whether or not the player’s summer shenanigans would affect his team selection, Wenger said, “It can but, at the moment, I still hope to extend his contract so, at the moment, it doesn’t affect me.
“Of course, at some stage, if in April it’s not done, then you can think ‘now it will be difficult to do’. But it doesn’t look like it has affected him.”
Of course it’s hard to know if it’s affected him as he hasn’t played much this season. He scored Arsenal’s sixth goal against Southampton having come on as a substitute and drew praise from his manager regarding his attitude.
“He’s gone through, at 23 years of age, a lot. A lot of positives and negatives. We are lucky — I don’t know what it is about Southampton but they bring players on, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and him, with their feet on the ground.”
However, Arseblog News is aware that there has been little softening in the stance between Walcott and Arsenal and, if anything, the two sides are even further apart when it comes to agreeing fresh terms.
Unless there is a change of mindset from Walcott and his people then Arsenal face the prospect of selling him for a knock-down price in January or allowing him to leave on a free next summer.
Whatever happens, it seems that, for now, Arsene Wenger is determined to use the players whose long-term futures at the club are assured, whilst not discarding the value that a player like Walcott might have until such time as a decision is made once and for all.