Good morning all, welcome to a brand new week and it’s started with something of a bang with this morning’s Sun exclusive regarding Theo Walcott.
They say that Liverpool are looking to sell Andy Carroll, not because he’s a bit crap but to fund a move for one Theodore P Walcott. A price tag of around £15m has been mooted even though he’s in the last year of his contract. Now, it’s not unfair to suggest that a Sun exclusive might not be 100% true, they have been known to sort of just … you know … invent stuff in the past, but what’s undeniable is that there’s an issue regarding Theo.
He has less than 12 months of his current deal to run. Arsenal have been trying to tie him down but during last season he and his people make the executive decision to wait and see how we finished before they would commit to anything. I’ve mentioned before how I find that a touch hard to take from a player like Theo Walcott. From someone like van Persie it’s more understandable, even if he did make a complete bags of it when he made his announcement.
He is a player who excites and frustrates in equal measure. He’s capable of things which suggest he could be a really outstanding player, and he’s just as capable of running the ball straight out for a throw with nobody anywhere near him. You look at his stats and in pure numbers terms they’re good. Last season he had 11 goals and 12 assists for Arsenal, a very decent record, but when you look at performances it’s hard to not to feel he could improve.
When he spoke about having ‘consistency in patches’ it was an unwittingly wonderful quote because it sums him up perfectly. There doesn’t appear to much in the way of middle ground. He’s either really good or he stinks the place out. And as a nice, clean cut young English man, he’s perhaps had a bit more leeway with regards the problems he has with his game. Thus, when he deigns himself unavailable to discuss a new contract with the club, I find it a touch unsettling.
As I mentioned last week I contacted Walcott’s agent who said there were always plans to sit down and talk with the club after the Euros. The Sun story today, however, stinks of agent. ‘Placing’ a story like that, including a line regarding how some members of the Arsenal hierarchy are willing to consider selling him, is the footballing equivalent of strapping a FOR SALE sign to him and marching him up and down like at a horse fair. It alerts those who might be willing to make a bid. If Liverpool are one then I’m not surprised that Chelsea are being linked too.
The thing we have to realise is that when a player pulls out of contract talks, and when further efforts to negotiate with him and his people are rebuffed, there’s normally more to it than dissatisfaction with what’s on offer. This idea that a player wants to concentrate on football and wait until the end of a season to think about a new deal is ludicrous. We all know what it means. Signing a new contract is about all a player has to do when it comes to a new deal. He goes in, X marks the spot, and it’s the club and the agents who spend all the time working out the finer details.
When a player says they want to wait, especially when they know they’re heading into the final year of their deal, it means they’re willing to listen to what’s on offer from elsewhere. There might well be a certain amount of brinksmanship involved, trying to get the best terms on offer from the current club, but make no mistake, if a player really wanted to sign with us, and was fully committed to us, the deal would be done. Look at Thomas Vermaelen during the season. No fuss, no fanfare, new deal, signed, sealed and delivered.
So what to do about Theo? Personally, I’d like to see a quick resolution for fear of another saga developing and disrupting our pre-season preparations. If he wants to sign a new deal, then he ought to sign it, with the pay rise it will surely bring. If not, thank you Theo, all the very best to you and goodbye. We’ll take whatever money is on offer from elsewhere, re-invest it and on we go. After the van Persie thing I’ve got no time to worry about another player deciding his future is not red and white. If he stays, grand, if not, no big deal for me.
I do wonder if Theo’s reluctance to sign a new contract is also influenced by the emergence of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Is he looking over his shoulder at him and worrying about how much he might play next season. You have to think Podolski is going to play on the left hand side of the attacking trio, and unless Arsene is planning on moving Oxlade-Chamberlain into the centre of midfield (I think it’s a bit early for him yet to be honest), he’s going to really put pressure on Walcott for his place in the team. A small factor, perhaps, but one which can’t be ignored.
He’s not due back to begin his pre-season training for another week, his extended holidays post Euros mean that this is one which could drag on for a bit yet. Together with the van Persie situation it means we’ve got two issues we have to sort out in a timely a fashion as possible. When you look at things overall, there still appears to be a lot of work to do in terms of getting our squad finalised for the new season. There are still unresolved issues with players we need to move, with players whose negotiating tactics are causing disruption, and with players we need to bring in to strengthen the squad.
There’s a lot to do, let’s hope we get on with it and sort out what needs to be sorted out as quickly and efficiently as we can.