With his contract situation yet to be resolved, it is possible that Theo Walcott could leave Arsenal before the season is over.
According to the Daily Mail, the young Englishman and the club are set for showdown talks in November and that could well lead to the final decision on the strikers future at the club.
Whether Walcott has been worthy of his contract demands, a solid £100,000 a week as presented in the Daily Mail's article, is an issue for contention, but the English attacker has certainly made it hard not to side with him considering his performances this far.
Folks will vociferously point to his most recent game against Reading as proof that Walcott will be worth it. His age and knowledge of Arsenal's style of play certainly work in his favor, as Arsenal may struggle to find a better replacement in the usually hectic January window.
Still, considering the circumstances it may be best for Arsenal to let Walcott leave in January if there are better options available. His recent productivity has led to more positive attention but Walcott still needs to do much more to gain what he is so adamant he deserves.
Walcott has shown his talent in spurts, but his time in an Arsenal jersey may be up. It would definitely make financial sense for the club to let him go in January if they cannot resolve the contract situation.
It would be foolish, of course, to let such a player leave without an adequate replacement, but it would be better than losing him for nothing.
The Gunners took a similar route with Robin Van Persie, as well as Samir Nasri before him, and if those two can go, then so can Walcott.
The fact that he has been linked to a number of clubs so far this season would help the Gunners in their bid to relieve themselves of the attacker in January, as opposed to losing him for nothing in the summer.
Arsenal would need a player who can be as effective—preferably more effective—than the Englishman and provide some of the same attributes as their current player.
Arsene Wenger's predilection for going after young talent is well known, and the club has been linked to Crewe Alexandra's Max Clayton and Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha in separate reports from the Daily Mail.
Obviously, neither player could help the Gunners cope with the loss of Walcott regardless of their potential.
The Atletico Madrid forward had a standout 2011/12 season and has somewhat similar statistics to the Arsenal No. 14 throughout his career. He would certainly be a direct replacement for Walcott and could hopefully improve on his previous season with players like Santi Cazorla around him.
There are other players who could make an impact in different ways and are within a similar age range.
Hatem Ben Arfa is older than the Englishman but showed in his first steady season in England that he has goals in him. His creativity and flair would certainly be an upgrade on Walcott's current skill set.
Iker Muniain is also similar to Walcott in terms of output, but at 19, he has much more room to grow and has already made a significant impact on a title-chasing side (Athletic Bilbao lost out in the Europa League final due to the magic of Falcao).
Stevan Jovetic could be the best of the bunch right now and certainly has the best goal-scoring record to date. He may be on the least high-profile team, in terms of recent results on the European stage, but all of the big clubs casting glances show that the Fiorentina attacker is a great talent.
Unlike the other players mentioned, however, Jovetic would have to play centrally and could slot in either up front or behind the forward.
Should Arsenal let Walcott leave in January?
The question remains as to whether Arsenal is even really interested in any of these players, but the club should have the financial prowess, increased by the sale of Walcott, to capture any one of them.
As reported by ESPN Soccernet Walcott recently stated his desire to stay at the club and emulate the player whose number he currently wears.
If that is the case then the issue should be resolved before December and both he and the club can get on with more important matters such as winning silverware.
That outcome is far from certain, though, as Walcott has held out long enough to suggest that money, in this case the two sides contrasting opinions as to the players worth, will be the reason why he leaves.
The players mentioned above all represent good options for the Gunners should it be decided that Walcott has to leave in January. If there are any other players on the club's radar, they should do their best to sign them as well.
Better players have gone and been replaced, and the same can happen with the Englishman.