Arsenal Transfers: 6 Possible Attacking Replacements for Theo Walcott (Video)
Theo Walcott's contract is running down, almost as fast as the error-prone winger himself. Having signed from Southampton for £12.5 million in 2006 as a 16-year-old, it is now fair to say that Walcott, 24 on his next birthday, has not lived up to his potential.
Despite playing 14 times for the Gunners this season in all competitions, Walcott has yet to finish the full 90 minutes in Premier League action and has spent the vast majority of his time warming the bench.
This is an obvious ploy by Arsene Wenger to show the England international what life is like outside the chosen few if you threaten to make it difficult.
“My desire is to keep Theo,” he said recently, despite being reluctant to play or start the star. “We do what’s needed to keep him and hopefully [as] I told you many times, we can sort this situation out very soon...Very soon is before the end of December—one way or another, that is for sure."
The caveat at the end is more than obvious—sign a new contract or you will leave. So far this term, Walcott has shown no real reason for Arsene Wenger to break the bank to keep him.
He has rejected a contract worth £75,000 per week and is demanding to be played as a centre forward. But, when given the chance to play, as he was against Fulham in Arsenal's recent 3-3 draw, he has been poor to say the least.
Given the money involved, £75,000 over five years works out at £19.5 million before bonuses, Arsenal would be far better off selling the player to Liverpool, where they could easily demand a fee of around £8 million.
It's not rocket science, it's not even Soccernomics—it's just good business. From there the Gunners could plot to replace Walcott with a real player.
Here Bleacher Report looks at six potential players who could replace Theo Walcott in a new look Arsenal attack. Read on, and don't forget to leave your comments and suggestions in the section below.
There is little doubt that Edinson Cavani is one of the top strikers in the world.
In that brief time, the forward has shone in Walter Mazzarri's 3-4-3 formation and has bagged some 80 goals in just 109 matches. This season he is one of Europe's top players, never mind strikers, and has waded in with an outstanding 14 goals in 14 matches.
Recent reports in the media have Arsenal linked with a £30 million transfer for the player and it is easy to see why.
Marouane Fellaini is one the most in-form players in the Premier League at the moment.
The giant Belgian international, Fellaini is 6'4", is comfortable in central midfield, just behind the striker or as a target man and would instantly give Arsenal the height, strength and firepower from midfield their game sadly lacks at the moment.
He recently told BBC's Football Focus that he had dreams of playing in the Champions League - sooner rather than later.
"I want to play [in the] Champions League," said the midfielder who has scored five goals in 10 games this season, before importantly adding, "if it's possible with Everton. But if not, with another team."
This has instantly put the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur on red alert with a view to a January transfer for the player. The good news in this for teams already in the Champions League is that Fellaini is not cup-tied and would seriously bolster any club with serious title ambitions.
His addition to midfield would allow the Gunners to play in a more direct way. But it would also give great strength and depth to a 4-2-3-1 formation, as Fellaini would be more than capable of playing anywhere through the middle while accommodating the attacking likes of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla.
Klaas Jan Huntelaar
Rumour has it that Liverpool are closing in on the signing of Klaas Jan Huntelaar from Schalke 04. The Dutch striker who scored 48 goals in 47 matches last season and who already has eight in 15 this season is coming towards the end of his contract and could be available for as little as £6 million.
The problem with Huntelaar's signing for Arsene Wenger is that the shape of the team would have to be seriously rearranged to suit the striker.
The Hunter is used to playing in a non-parallel striking partnership, which the Gunners do not have the players for, or as the lone striker which would make the recent forward signings, Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski, seem like errors.
However, when all is said and done—strikers of this quality do not come available for this price very often and Wenger would be insane not to have looked at the possibility at the very least.
To get the best out of Huntelaar, Arsenal would be best using a 4-2-3-1 formation with Podolski, Cazorla and possibly Ramsey, Gervinho or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain just behind the Dutchman.
Either that or a 4-2-2-2 formation that would see Podolski partner Huntelaar up front while Mikel Arteta and Jack Wilshere anchor midfield as Cazorla and Ramsey or Oxlade-Chamberlain play in the attacking third.
Wilfried Zaha is the hottest property outside the Premier League in England at the moment. The 19-year-old Crystal Palace winger has been attracting scouts from the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal since he made his début in 2010.
Since then he has played over 100 games in the physically challenging domain that is the Championship and is getting every season.
At the moment Zaha is used on either flank but his strength, skill and football-intelligence means that he will move inside sooner rather than later.
Roy Hodgson has already seen enough in the youngster to include him in the full England squad and it is only a matter of time before he moves onto bigger and better things.
For Arsenal, his capture would almost be a like-for-like signing regarding Walcott with the added bonus that Zaha is far more comfortable on the left than Walcott is ever likely to be.
Plus, at this stage of his development there is a very good argument to be made that Zaha's apprenticeship with Crystal Palace has stood him in far better stead than Walcott's apprenticeship at Arsenal and Arsene Wenger will be signing a diamond with rough edges rather than a buried gem.
Arsenal fans already know a lot about Willian after Shaktar Donetsk's matches against the Gunners in the Champions League.
The Brazilian international was a target for chief rivals Tottenham Hotspur during the summer and is comfortable across any position in the final third.
He would instantly eclipse any lingering memories of Walcott and would easily slot into an Arsenal side screaming out for a creative right sided player.
The 24-year-old does his best work as an attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1 formation and is primarily a creative force in the team. His meagre return of just 33 goals in 214 matches for Shaktar would back this assertion up.
While Walcott easily beats Willian in the goalscoring stakes he lags behind somewhat in maturity, team play, versatility and—most importantly—in football-intelligence.
Willian would slot right into either Arsenal's 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation's and would be extremely comfortable supporting the main striker in each.
Another player coming towards the end of his contract with Schalke 04, and another player Arsenal fans are used to seeing in the Champions League, is highly rated 22-year-old Lewis Holtby.
The German international, whose father was born in Liverpool, is one of the Bundesliga's most exciting player's at the moment and is everything Arsene Wenger could want in a youngster.
He is mature beyond his years, possesses superb technique and is tactically mature as you would expect of any German prodigy. The attacking midfielder is comfortable on either foot but is primarily used as the central attacking midfielder in Huub Steven's 4-2-3-1 formation.
So far this season the German international has played 19 matches and has contributed six goals and eight assists including three assists in four Champions League games. He has an eye for goal, can play on either flank-although he prefers the left-and is known for the timing of his late runs into the box.
Would he fit the Arsenal team? Absolutely. Should Wenger try to sign him? Absolutely.
Is he better than Walcott? Without doubt and without the ego.
And If All Else Fails...Adel Taarabt
It would appear that Wilfried Zaha is Plan-A for Arsenal in the January transfer window and that Adel Taarabt of QPR is Plan-B.
With Crystal Palace rumoured to be holding out for £15 million for Wilfried Zaha, Arsene Wenger has put his next best plan into action by scouting QPR's Adel Taarabt. The Moroccan international and ex-Tottenham Hotspur player has a chequered past and has always proved next to impossible to tame despite his prodigious skill set.
He was with Spurs between 2006 and 2009 and only saw action 16 times before he was sold to Queens Park Rangers.
Once at Loftus Road, Taarabt was superb in the Championship and was inspirational as they gained promotion.
But once Rangers hit the Premier League his lack of tactical awareness came back to haunt him and he spent most of the time as a squad player.
This season he has scored twice in five appearances but given his past, it is amazing that Arsenal are being linked with the player.
Price wise he would be available for a very low price and would demand very low wages but he would not, in any way, shape or form be an improvement on Walcott.
So if Adel Taarabt is the only player available for Arsene Wenger to sign in January, Arsenal fans had better hope Theo Walcott signs that contract.