Arsenal Transfers: Gonzalo Higuain the Latest Barrier to Theo Walcott's Dreams

Allan JiangTransfers CorrespondentJune 27, 2013

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16:  A dejected Theo Walcott of Arsenal looks on during the FA Cup with Budweiser fifth round match between Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers at Emirates Stadium on February 16, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Arsenal's impending signing of Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuaín is the latest barrier to Theo Walcott's dreams of being the Gunners' No. 9. 

He spent the beginning of his football life as a goalkeeper, but his frustrations of watching other kids score prompted him to become an outfielder. 

When he reminisced to FourFourTwo, you could instantly tell that he fell in love with scoring: "I didn’t start playing until I was 10 but I scored about 100 goals for my team AFC Newbury."

Walcott has maxed out his ceiling as a winger. 

He doesn't have the complete offensive game of Cristiano Ronaldo, lacks the dribbling ability of Franck Ribéry and doesn't possess the crossing precision of David Beckham to be world-class out wide. 

Ronaldo's 168 goals in his last three seasons for Real Madrid is the byproduct of freakish athleticism and football intelligence—Walcott has the former but not the latter. 

Ribéry averages 3.0 more dribbles per league game than Walcott as the Frenchman's game isn't overly reliant on pace. 

Beckham's remarkable crossing prowess was a main factor why he was a two-time runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year award—Walcott mishit 150 of 173 crosses last season.

This is why the word inconsistent is used to describe Walcott's tenure as a makeshift winger.

He has never identified himself as a winger and why would he?

One of his worst experiences as a footballer was created by his natural tendency to abandon his wide duties to be a faux-No. 9, from Theo: Growing Up Fast via Dominic Fifield at The Guardian:

Something happened out there [at the training camp] that shook my confidence.

It was the second day, and I made a run inside from my position out wide on the right.

Suddenly Mr Capello started screaming at me at the top of his voice.

'Theo,' he was yelling. 'I will kill you if you come inside like that again.'

You need to understand that Walcott's self-worth is etched in the No. 9 role, so everytime he is forced to play out wide, he is fighting against himself.

Afterall, he was put on a pedestal as a striker with world-class upside by then English manager Sven-Göran Eriksson.

"Where are the other good English centre-forwards?" quipped Eriksson when asked why he selected a 17-year-old Walcott for the 2006 FIFA World Cup via Matt Gatward at The Independent

Walcott's insatiable need to constantly remind people he's a striker shows how desperate he is to play that position. 

"The boss has always promised me I will get a chance to play up front," Walcott said to Jason Burt at The Telegraph. "So it’s been six years and maybe I'll get a chance up front."

When Walcott exercised his leverage over Arsenal management during stalled contractual negotiations for a new contract, he made it clear for the umpty-umpth time his desires to be a No. 9 via BBC Sport:

It's not going to happen any time soon. My last contract took six months to do. I've been judged, with people saying it's all about money. It's never been that with me.

I signed as a striker. I've learnt my trade out on the wing. Playing up front is important. It's one of the main factors for me.

Déjà vu, isn't it? 

June 29, 2009. 

On the eve of Horst Hrubesch's Germany beating Stuart Pearce's England 4-0 in the Euro U-21 final, Walcott was being questioned about his future with the Gunners. 

"The boss said I would have probably played little bit more up front last season if I’d not got injured," he said via Wales Online. "I probably will end up being a striker."

To explain the context of the conversation, he had recently extended his contract with the club. 

The difference between 2009 and now is that Wenger is ready to pull the trigger in a market where English strikers are bought for a premium. 


  • 2005: Real Madrid sold Michael Owen to Newcastle United for £16.8 million


Also from January 1995 to July 1996, the British transfer fee record was broken three times for English strikers (Andy Cole, Stan Collymore and Alan Shearer). 

By buying Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski and now potentially Higuaín, Wenger is making it abundantly clear that he doesn't see Walcott as a centre forward.

Combined with Wenger green-lighting Walcott's inflated £100,000 per week salary, Le Professeur not only strung Walcott along (again) but extended the Englishman's contract to increase his market value. 

Prepare to say au revoir to Walcott sooner rather than later. 



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