Arsene Wenger believes Theo Walcott remains faster than Hector Bellerin, despite the defender being crowned Arsenal’s sprint king over 40 metres, and says it’s pretty obvious that neither are as quick as professional sprinters.
Both the England international and his Spanish team mate were challenged this week by sprinter Richard Kilty, the current world indoor champion over 60 metres, who was clearly riled by a ridiculous report claiming Bellerin’s 4.42 seconds over 40 metres would see him lead Usain Bolt over the same distance.
On Twitter, Kilty posted: “Media claiming @HectorBellerin can run 4.42 over 40m. Absolutely no way. Are these journalists complete morons! I will put £30,000 on the line to race @HectorBellerin & @theowalcott any sprint distance, any time, any place, anywhere. The race will be over very quick. So if they put their money down I will gladly show everyone they can not sprint as fast as the media claim.”
Asked about the challenge in his pre-Reading press conference Wenger touched on why speed in football is a different quality to the pure-form undertaken by specialist athletes.
“I believe that Walcott is our fastest player, and I agree completely that the sprinters are quicker than football players, but it’s different runs. You know, a football player runs with football boots on grass, it’s different kinds of runs, it’s not only pure pace.
“The pace in our job starts with the brain and of course then you put in action what you analysed on the pitch. But pure speed, I am convinced that the sprinters, who are specialists, are quicker than football players.”
Presumably the boss went straight to the changing rooms to tell Hector and Theo that he’d saved them £30,000 each and then asked for his cut, warning that neither of them will play on Saturday unless the cash arrives by 5pm.
Wenger may of course just deduct Theo’s IOU from his new contract, something he’s confident the two parties can thrash out in the future.
“Yes, I’m confident,” he said on the subject. “I believe Theo has a great future. He’s just coming back from a very, very difficult injury and every week he’s getting better.
“He’s very young and I believe he will have a great goalscoring record in future because of the quality and intelligence of his game, therefore I would like him to stay with our club.”