Arsene Wenger praised Theo Walcott’s performance against West Brom today but said that his goals in the 4-1 don’t make any difference to his already trenchant desire to keep the England international.
Walcott hit a first-half hat-trick to help the Gunners to victory with the Arsenal manager saying he’s now at a point where he be considered a serious option for a central striking position.
Asked about deploying him there, Wenger said, “He’s the right age. He’s 26 years old, it’s a good age for a footballer.
I wish that he stays free of injuries now. He had a few downs on the injury front and that’s never good. You have to be consistently present to express your full potential.
“He’s a good goalscorer but he has been out for a year. A year in football is a long, long time and it takes more time to come back to your best so that you are sharp and confident.
“He was already sharp when he came on in our midweek game against Sunderland. He was the one who created the chances and I always said that he could play through the middle because he has good movement, good finishing and he did that well today.”
The issue of his contract was raised too, but the Arsenal manager says it has made no difference to his intentions towards a player who will go into the final 12 months of his current deal at the end of June.
“Without his hat-trick or with his hat-trick, we want him to stay,” he said.
“We are in negotiations and we have started to speak with his agent. We did that before he scored his hat-trick.”
Wenger hasn’t been shy about making public how difficult negotiations with the Walcott camp/package are, so we won’t hold our breath just yet.
Certainly though, today’s performance was a reminder of what Walcott can do when he’s switched on.