Theo Walcott Signs 3.5-Year Contract Extension to Stay at Arsenal

Tim KeeneyContributor IJanuary 18, 2013

If you were having reservations about buying a Theo Walcott Arsenal shirt, it's now safe to go ahead and make the purchase.

UPDATE: Jan. 18th, 10:45 a.m. ET by Sam Westmoreland

Well, the reports from earlier have been confirmed by the club, who have announced the signing on their website. Manager Arsene Wenger had this to say, according to the club's report: 

Manager Arsène Wenger said: “We are all delighted that Theo has signed a new contract. He joined us as a 16-year-old and since then has developed very well to become an extremely important player for both Arsenal Football Club and England.

Walcott has been essential to the team's success this season, serving as the focal point of the Gunner offense for much of the season, and will likely continue to do so for at least the next few seasons. This was the contract the Arsenal faithful have been clambering for all season, and now, the speedy 23-year-old is staying on at the club for at least a few more years. 

----------END UPDATE----------

According to David Ornstein of the BBC, the 23-year-old Englishman, whose current deal was set to expire in June, has agreed to be a Gunner for the next three-and-a-half years. It's a deal reportedly worth £100,000 a week.

Despite Walcott's constant reiterations about wanting to stay at Arsenal, it was beginning to look like a new deal would never come to fruition. After several negotiations, seemingly no progress was made and the youngster turned down an extension worth £75,000 per week.

Nonetheless, once the new year struck and the midseason transfer window opened, the two sides again engaged in talks and were finally able to come to an agreement. 

Arsenal fans can now rejoice.

Walcott has often been seen as an enigmatic player whose final product didn't always match up with his insane potential, but this season his form has hit new heights.

Blessed with brilliant pace and playmaking ability, Walcott has set up teammates with ease while working down the sideline, but he has also finally proven to be a threat to put the ball in the back of the net while playing up front.

In Arsenal's seven-goal onslaught against Newcastle to end 2012, Walcott showcased his immense talent when he racked up an amazing three goals and two assists.

Not only does this signing signify three more years of performances like that, but Arsenal fans will also hope it denotes the end of the Gunners being a feeder club.

For the past few years, Arsenal has continued to develop world-class players only to see them depart for squads that are bringing home silverware. The departure of Robin van Persie to Manchester United is the most recent example, and if Walcott would have followed suit after establishing himself as one of the most dynamic players in the EPL, it would have been another devastating blow for the Gunners. 

Perhaps this is a new beginning for Arsenal, which has struggled to convince players to stay at the Emirates, or maybe it's just a case of a top-notch player staying true to the club he has been with since 2006.

Whatever it is, Arsenal fans will gladly take it.