Arsenal Transfer News: Arsene Wenger Dismisses Theo Walcott Exit Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2017

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 02: Theo Walcott of Arsenal looks on during UEFA Europa League Group H match between Arsenal and Red Star Belgrade (Crvena Zvezda) at The Emirates , London 2 Nov 2017 (Photo by TF-Images/TF-Images via Getty Images)
TF-Images/Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has insisted Theo Walcott still has a role to play at the club despite speculation regarding a January exit.

It was reported by Oliver Todd of MailOnline that Everton had enquired about the availability of the forward, with Toffees boss Sam Allardyce said to be a big fan of the England international.

When asked about Walcott on Wednesday ahead of the Gunners' clash with BATE Borisov in the UEFA Europa League, the Arsenal boss was adamant the player would be staying at the Emirates Stadium, per James Olley of the Evening Standard:

The player himself posted the following snap on social media recently, suggesting he has been sidelined due to illness:

The former Southampton man has struggled for minutes this season and has yet to start a game in the Premier League. In total, Walcott has made nine appearances, netting three goals in the process.

Competition is fierce at the top end of the pitch for the Gunners, where Wenger has Alexandre Lacazette, Alexis Sanchez, Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck to call upon. That quartet, as well as rising star Alex Iwobi, all appear to be ahead of Walcott in the pecking order.

It’s been a disappointing start to the season for the striker, especially given he enjoyed a decent 2016-17, netting 19 goals in total. It was his second-best campaign in terms of goalscoring at Arsenal since arriving at the club in 2006.

As noted by Chris Moore of World Soccer Talk, Wenger's switch to a 3-4-3 setup appears to have had a detrimental effect on Walcott:

In truth, there have been times over the past couple of campaigns when he would have benefited from moving on.

When he arrived at Arsenal, many considered him to be a remarkable talent, having shone for Saints as a 16-year-old. And while he has had memorable moments with the north London club, too often he has been blighted by inconsistency and the lack of a settled position in the side.

Walcott has found himself down the pecking order at Arsenal.
Walcott has found himself down the pecking order at Arsenal.Clive Mason/Getty Images

While many anticipated Walcott would eventually become a centre-forward, the majority of his career has been spent on the flanks. Despite that, he has been a regular source of goals for the club, as these numbers from Sky Sports Statto show:

Perhaps Wenger has always believed Arsenal would be able to get the best from the forward eventually, although 11 years on from signing for the Gunners, it feels as though a fresh start would help the player.

At the moment, it appears as though only an injury crisis or a raft of suspensions would lead to Walcott getting his chance in the Premier League for Arsenal. If a reasonable offer did arrive in upcoming market, it would surely have to be considered.

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