Arsenal Outline Wilfried Zaha as Replacement for Theo Walcott

Nick Akerman@NakermanFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 10:  Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace shoots during the Carling Cup Semi Final First Leg match between Crystal Palace and Cardiff City at Selhurst Park on January 10, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Arsene Wenger may be ready to cash in on Theo Walcott.

Reports suggest the Gunners boss is already outlining replacements for the contract rebel.

Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha is top of this list and could head to the Emirates in a £12 million deal (via The Daily Mail).

Zaha has attracted plenty of Premier League interest across the last year.

Palace boss Dougie Freedman told Liverpool and Manchester United the 19-year-old wasn't for sale in January 2012 (via

Wigan also tried to lure Zaha away from Selhurst Park. Roberto Martinez eventually had to back down after Palace priced the Latics out of a move (via The Daily Mirror).

The England U-21 international has enjoyed an excellent start to the Championship season. He has scored four goals in 10 appearances, helping Palace to fourth place.

Uncertainty over Theo Walcott's future continues to make headlines. The former Southampton player has already turned down a £75,000 per week extension.

Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood has been quick to publicly state the club will not break their wage structure to keep Walcott. He spoke to The Daily Star:

We have got our general overall wage structure and we are not prepared to break it for anybody.

We have made an offer which he didn’t think was acceptable and that is the end of it. We think it is a very reasonable offer.

For the moment his people are still talking to us and we hope it will be resolved. But don’t ask me when, because I haven’t a clue.

I hope that he will eventually come round and sign. It will be a pity if he does not, but the whole issue of pay for footballers has got totally out of hand and they don’t get terribly well advised a lot of the time.

Walcott is deliberately being difficult.

In Robin van Persie's absence he strives to be the star player at the club. The 23-year-old wants to play as a striker and is unlikely to ink a new deal until the wish is granted on a permanent basis (via BBC Sport).

Wenger has used the player sparingly in recent weeks.

Walcott has made just one start and five substitute appearances in the Premier League this campaign, scoring two goals and providing one assist.

With the likes of Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla settling in quickly at the Emirates, Walcott's lack of playing time has hardly been noticeable. He's had a useful knack of making an impact when coming off the bench, but Arsenal fans should be more focused on the improvements of other players.

Individuals such as Aaron Ramsey and Carl Jenkinson have worked extremely hard this season. Both underline a side that is performing with grit and style.

Such performances make Walcott's failure to commit a major irritation. If he isn't willing to put in the effort to maintain a starting place, Wenger would be right to bring in someone of Zaha's potential.

Perhaps Walcott has fallen out of love with the club? He is by no means indispensable and must quickly make up his mind.

The international break could be an interesting fortnight for Arsenal fans. If Zaha lights up the England U-21 scene and Walcott fails to make an impression at senior level, how long will Wenger's patience last?

Do you think Arsenal should make a move for Zaha? Let me know in the comments section or on Twitter.

All statistics in this article are courtesy of Whoscored.


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