Emirates Stadium winger could be set for Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have joined a host of Premier League clubs seeking to capitalise on Theo Walcott’s contract stand-off with Arsenal, although the England international may wait until the summer before making a decision on his future.
The 23-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and his refusal to commit to a new deal at Arsenal is adding to Arsène Wenger’s problems at The Emirates Stadium. Wenger admitted this week to being “frustrated” at the lack of progress on Walcott’s contract, with Arsenal believed to have offered the forward £75,000 a week to extend his six-year stay in north London, but is adamant the club will not cash in on the player during January.
Chelsea are prepared to test Arsenal’s resolve with an offer for Walcott. They are likely to be rivalled by Liverpool while both Manchester clubs are also monitoring the situation. Walcott, however, is expected to delay any decision until, as a free agent, he could have his pick of the Premier League’s leading clubs and command a lucrative salary.
The forward has repeatedly said money is not the reason for his stand-off with Arsenal but he does want assurances from Wenger about being played as a striker rather than a winger. But Walcott is aware that other clubs will better Arsenal’s offer and, as he has settled in the area, Chelsea offer the added attraction of being relatively local.
The longer Theo Walcott and Arsenal continue their impasse, the more likely it appears the Gunners winger will leave Emirates Stadium.
Walcott has arguably been one of the Gunners’ best players this season, with five goals and four assists in 16 appearances so far – with only seven of those coming from the start.
The trouble for Arsene Wenger is that he will wonder what exactly Walcott is playing for – is it to help his current club do well and in hope of a more lucrative offer?
Or is it in the hope of landing a bigger move to a club challenging for honours both domestically and in Europe?
Chelsea are one of those, and although the Blues have already failed to defend their UEFA Champions League trophy, they appear in a better position than Arsenal to qualify for the competition next year.
What’s more, they are far from out of the title race, though their current ten point deficit to Manchester City will be immensely difficult to make up.
Their recent pedigree of trophies makes them a more enticing prospect than Arsenal though, and Walcott’s reasoning for moving to Stamford Bridge would be unfortunately understandable.
Whether he would be granted his desire to play as a central striker at any of Chelsea, Manchester United, Man City or Liverpool remains unclear, but the 23 year-old seems less likely to stay at Arsenal than ever.
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