Walcott has yet to sign a new contract with Arsenal, and his deal expires at the end of the year. Negotiations have moved at a frustratingly slow pace, although The Telegraph’s Jeremy Wilson reported Tuesday that talks have been held for the first time in months.
If this round of brokering fails to produce results, Walcott’s exit will be inevitable. The Sun’s Phil Thomas reported that Chelsea is the front-runner to capitalize if the rift becomes permanent, and that the Blues would happily pay the rumored £15 million fee.
Here is what makes Walcott such an attractive target in the upcoming transfer window.
Walcott’s vision and finishing ability have been admirable this season, but the attribute that caused Arsenal to sign him from Southampton as a teenager is still what makes him a special player.
There are few players in the world with similar pace, and his ability to fly past an opposing back line makes him a constant attacking threat.
Chelsea added Victor Moses and Eden Hazard in the last transfer window, and both give the team speed on the flanks. But Walcott has an extra gear that neither of these players possesses.
The 23-year-old is continually improving as an all-around attacker, but his speed is still the only quality that makes him truly stand out among the top players in England.
With each game during this campaign, Walcott has gotten better. This suggests that his most productive seasons are still in the future.
His decision-making and confidence in front of goal have come a long way from previous seasons, and if he continues his growth, he has the potential to be an incredibly dangerous weapon in the attack. He already has 11 goals and seven assists in all competitions for Arsenal this season.
In addition, Walcott has begged Arsene Wenger to play him at striker, and the longtime Gunners manager granted him his wish in the team’s most recent Premier League match against Reading. The Arsenal attack was lethal, and Walcott provided one of his side’s five goals.
While his ability to get on the score sheet may have been influenced more by the Royals’ atrocious defending than Walcott’s skills as a centre-forward, the result cannot be disputed. His potential to star for Chelsea on the wing or through middle makes him an exciting target.
Sticking it to Arsenal
Where will Theo Walcott be playing in February?
Now, it is Chelsea’s turn to pry an emerging star away from the Emirates in the midst of contentious negotiations. If the Blues succeed, it will continue a worrying trend for Arsenal.
If Wenger continues to let his stars leave for clubs within the Premier League, his unblemished record of keeping Arsenal in the top four will be in serious danger.
Signing Walcott would not only improve the Blues’ squad, but it would also weaken Arsenal. With the Gunners just two points back in the table, this is worth a few million pounds.