Arsenal FC: 5 Ways the Gunners and Theo Walcott Can Repair Their Relationship
Whether it is as a result of squad selection, contract disputes or otherwise, the Englishman’s relationship with the club has soured in recent months.
It would seem as though discussions with Walcott and his team are still ongoing, but if an agreement is not reached soon, the club have two options. They either sell the winger in January to bring in some cash, or let him see out his contract before he leaves for free in the summer.
However, the problem with professional sportspeople is that they can often be an incredibly difficult bunch to please and whether or not Walcott remains at the Emirates Stadium, a mood change is all but unlikely.
So, it’s recently become clear that some Gooners want Walcott to "Sign 'Da Ting,'" but just how can they make sure their man is happy once more?
One thing that has become increasingly clear in recent seasons is that Walcott sees himself playing as a striker, being where the goals are.
Walcott’s speed makes him an ideal candidate for the wing, but, in all fairness, the speed is put to waste unless there is an end product on the end of it.
The England international has fallen under fire at times for his lack of crossing ability and could actually succeed up front if he were given the chance.
Last season, Walcott netted on 11 occasions providing 10 assists. The season before that, the 23-year-old managed to score 13 goals with nine assists.
Baring in mind that these kinds of numbers were produced from the wing, it’s plausible that Walcott could be a very valuable asset up top.
Many strikers would love to get into double scoring figures for a season and players such as Peter Odemwingie and Emmanuel Adebayor have been lauded in recent campaigns for hitting the 15-goal tally.
It’s easy to forget that Walcott actually started his career as a striker and was moulded to play out wide, so he could actually be of more use in his original slot.
If the Gunners were to place the player where he wants to be, who’s to say it couldn’t work out as a win-win situation?
Offer More Starting Places
In these early exchanges of the 2012-13 campaign, Walcott has made just one Premier League start, relegated to the bench in favour of players such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Gervinho, Lukas Podolski and others.
Like any elite footballer, all Walcott wants is to perform to the best of his ability, and do just that as often as he possibly can.
Arsenal supporters will consider it as brilliant that Wenger has so many wide options to choose from when making his team selections, but one would think Walcott struggles to empathise.
One thing that would undoubtedly heal a few broken bridges, that may have been burned in recent weeks, is if the winger were to be handed not just more minutes, but more responsibility in the starting line-up.
In Walcott’s mind, he’ll have all the ability in the world to make Arsenal as successful a club as possible, he just wants to be able to show that.
At the sacrifice of others, more inclusion and faith in his ability is perhaps the most important symbol of trust Arsene Wenger can give in repairing the relationship with his player.
Alter Payment Policy
An apparent factor in the Walcott debacle, as has been a great factor in most contract disputes, is the matter of how much the player gets paid.
BBC Sport have reported that just last week the winger turned down a new five-year deal worth around £75,000 a week.
From this, we can see that it’s clear that Walcott is looking for a rather large pay raise and is at a club where those kinds of expenditures are monitored with great scrutiny.
To keep their speedster around, it seems as if Arsenal may have to break the bank slightly, going against a policy that is somewhat cherished by people both in and outside of the club.
If Walcott were to not put pen to paper over a new contract before the end of the season, the only way he would be happy in his remaining months would be if he were to receive assurances over his involvement.
It’s one thing to refuse giving a player the financial and positional demands that he desires; it’s another thing altogether to just omit him from playing altogether.
This sort of occurrence is becoming too regular a sight in football, where players hold enough weight to be able to barter over their involvement, either deeming themselves as unavailable or being left out due to a lack of loyalty.
There are certain promises that Wenger can give to his player, regardless of how much time Walcott has left on his deal, which will surely improve morale for the player himself.
What’s more, the club will undoubtedly be able to find a way of including certain incentives in any new deal that Walcott is to sign that may bring down the amount of money needed to pay him.
Stand Their Ground
One avenue, and possibly the most likely route that Arsenal will take, is that they continue to play hardball with their player and simply refuse to budge.
As things stand, the Gunners aren’t willing to pay an extortionate amount on wages and they aren’t overly keen on promising Walcott a place as a striker.
These would both appear to be major sticking points in the winger signing a new deal, so the club standing their ground shows integrity, good values and let’s face it, we’re still talking about huge sums of money at £75,000 a week.
In this, we can assume that the north Londoners are still a party that a lot of players want to join, courting a lot of respect from players for the way they go about things, albeit taking slightly longer to realise in some cases.
It may yet dawn on Walcott just how good he’s got it at just 23 years of age, responding to the firm stance that Arsenal have shown thus far.
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