Arsene Wenger has an impending decision to make regarding Theo Walcott’s future with Arsenal, and it is time for the long-time manager to send his talented winger away from London.
The Telegraph’s Jonathan Liew quoted Wenger discussing Walcott’s ongoing contract negotiation, and the French manager said, “There is urgency. How much, I don’t know. But there is urgency. We want to sort it out before Christmas, one way or the other.”
At first glance, risking Walcott’s exit does not seem to be smart strategy for the Gunners. The team has stumbled out of the gate in the Premier League and is currently sixth in the table with 15 points from 10 matches.
The attack has not been impressive or consistent, managing to find the back of the net only 15 times in league matches. Walcott has started just one league game, despite being the team’s leading scorer with seven goals in all competitions.
While Wenger appears to have a source of untapped attacking potential, Walcott is a known commodity. He is not a dominant player, regardless of whether he plays as a winger or in a centre-forward role, which he prefers.
Three of his seven goals come in a 7-5 victory over Reading in a League Cup fixture that turned out to be one of the strangest matches in the team’s recent history. Without this hat trick skewing his statistics, Walcott’s goal-scoring record is much more ordinary.
This is why Wenger has preferred to use him as part of a rotating cast of attacking players instead of making him a fixture in the starting 11. Ultimately, Walcott is a fine player who certainly has the talent to have a long, productive career, but he will never be a star.
However, he rejected a five-year, £75,000-a-week contract this summer, and is reportedly waiting for regular playing time atop the Arsenal formation before deciding whether or not he will re-sign with the Gunners, according to the BBC's David Ornstein.
These negotiations are causing an unnecessary amount of drama, and the Gunners are better off letting Walcott walk and replacing him with another young and talented player.
At this point, Wenger does not appear ready to give Walcott the chance he feels he deserves. The player and the manager are not seeing eye to eye, and the deadline for Arsenal to make a decision, or risk losing Walcott without getting anything in return, is rapidly approaching.
The team should save itself the trouble and sell him in January while searching for another young attacker to replace him.