I know it's called the "silly season," but the story by Matt Law in the Daily Mirror linking Theo Walcott with a move back to Southampton is borderline ludicrous.
Walcott signed for Arsenal from Southampton amid a blaze of publicity in January 2006 after making 23 appearances for the Saints, racking up five goals and two assists.
However, even though Southampton are reported to have made "an audacious enquiry," I would personally doubt they could even have gone that far. Nothing against them, but I just don't see a newly-promoted team being able to afford £15 million in transfer fees, in addition to a £100,000 weekly wage. Unless they wish to join close neighbors Portsmouth in death row.
So enough said about that. Not happening. No chance.
As for the more important matter of Walcott's future, though, there seems to be no apparent movement in any direction, in spite of the myriad quotes flying around.
The Daily Star reported that the player appeared to be inclined to stay, attributing the following words to him:
The club and my agent are talking but it is a slow process and my last contract took six months to agree – but it will come. We’ll see what happens but I am not too bothered about it. I am keen to work with the team just trying to get fit and there is still got a long way to go yet.
And in another interview with Sky Sports news, as reported on ESPNSoccernet, Walcott is reported to have said:
[Contract talks were] always going to be held back until after the Euros and they continue to talk. We'll see where it goes. I didn't have a clue about [the speculation]. I'm just an honest guy and I like to get on with my job. I don't want distractions. Like I say my agent and the club will continue to talk and when there is something to know I will get involved.
Very neutral indeed. "Not too bothered," huh, Theo?
The same Mirror article appears to suggest that Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Mamchester City are all interested in Arsenal's speedy winger, but quite honestly, I can't see him going to any of these clubs. Liverpool and Spurs would represent a definite backward step—I say this without an iota of bias—and he would barely get playing time at Chelsea and City.
The sensible opinion seems to be that he wants to stay at Arsenal, and is posturing for the best terms possible. While one can't exactly fault him for that, he needs to take a cold, hard look at his Arsenal performances over the years.
While his overall form hasn't been as wretched as some would suggest, he has definitely flattered to deceive, and failed to deliver on a consistent basis. And if Walcott doesn't want to lose the generous Gooner goodwill he has amassed over the years, he would do well to look at the form and behavior of his teammate Laurent Koscielny.
A player who brings his A game week in and week out. A player who, without fuss, committed to Arsenal in spite of reported interest from no less than Barcelona. Good on you, Kos.
It is also probable that Theo is being advised by agents / PR Consultants, the undisputed vermin of the footballing universe. Here too, he needs only to look at his (soon to be ex-) captain, and observe the complete mess his advisers landed him in.
My advice to Theo—for what it's worth—would be to let his football speak louder than his advisers. If he can become a 15-goal, 15-assist-per-season player—like he surely can—Arsenal will make the first move to offer him better terms.
Wisen up, Walcott. A few extra quid a week won't get you much further. But one false step now, and you may actually find yourself back at Southampton in the not too distant future.
And I bet you'll be bothered about it then.