Arsenal Transfer News: Paying Theo Walcott Is Right Move for Club

Andrew GouldFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2013

Theo Walcott is primed to sign an extension to stay with Arsenal.
Theo Walcott is primed to sign an extension to stay with Arsenal.Clive Mason/Getty Images

Arsenal and Theo Walcott are finally on the verge of agreeing to a new deal that the club needed to secure.

According to Dominic Fifield of The Guardian, Walcott is close to signing a five-year extension figured to be worth around £3 million.

Arsenal will reopen talks with Walcott's representatives in the next 24 hours and, while the deal is unlikely to be signed before the weekend, the management are confident they will be able to announce the player has committed his long-term future to the club, perhaps even next week. 

As rumors swirled that Walcott showed interest in joining Manchester United, his days with Arsenal looked numbered if the two sides did not sign a new contract by the end of 2012.

But after long, grueling negotiations, the Gunners are close to keeping its premier scorer around. It's a sigh of relief for a cub that could not afford to lose the explosive 23-year-old.

Through 16 league games, Walcott has netted a team-high eight goals along with six assists. Previously England's youngest player when he arrived at age 17, Walcott is already an experienced veteran at 23.

Manager Arsene Wenger's unwillingness to dole out large contracts presented another road block in extension talks. Fox Sports wrote that the club leader wanted to "keep pay disparity to a minimum" in order to maintain its current "socialist" financial structure.

But Walcott forced the team's hand by stepping up his game. As he notched a hat-trick against Newcastle, it became clearer that he deserved an extension before hitting the open market in July. 

Arsenal appears to have accepted the cold hard truth that even team sports are driven by superstars. Not awarding anybody top dollar also ensures that the team has no top players.

On a team that has scored 40 goals this season, Walcott has accounted for 20 percent of its offense. Chances are a similar talent won't be obtainable without opening up the checkbook.

If the Gunners want to keep up with the Premier League's top clubs, they need Walcott leading the offensive attack. Losing their star to Manchester United or another top foe would have hit them hard and hindered its ability to be taken seriously as a legit EPL contender.

Arsenal should make the deal with Walcott official as soon as possible. There's no I in "team", but there is an I in "win."