Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna believes that club teammate Theo Walcott has taken criticism in his stride properly to mature into a very important player for the club.
Walcott went through a turbulent campaign last season, performing inconsistently through February to hear the jeers from both outside the club and within some sections of the Gunners faithful.
A remarkable revival in form between February and May suddenly raised his stock, helping the youngster go from being deemed as a surplus asset to a major part of the Arsenal offense.
With fellow attacking players Tomas Rosicky and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain gaining momentum, and German sensation Lukas Podolski joining over the summer, Walcott is set to become a part of one of the league’s most formidable front line.
Sagna has asserted that Walcott’s resilience in difficult times has allowed him to earn the opportunity that lies ahead.
“Theo Walcott had a lot of pressure on him from a young age. He had a lot of pressure on him when he joined up with the national team for the first time at the age of 17. I know it is not easy to deal with but he did quite well,” Sagna told reporters.
The Frenchman added: “Of course, he had to cope with a lot of criticism but he was younger then and he has a lot of maturity now. He was one of our main players this year along with Robin van Persie, scoring goals and creating assists and he can play a big, big part for the English national team this summer.”
Speaking in particular about the partnership that Theo has struck with Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sagna continued: “Theo and Alex can be the best players in the world because they have such an ability to play football. They are not scared to play and both started really young.”
Indeed, the youth factor remains on Arsenal’s side despite a trophy drought that extends all the way to seven years back, when they defeated Manchester United on penalties to lift the 2004-05 FA Cup.
To end the dry spell, they must retain the services of multi-award winning skipper Robin van Persie – a feat that Sagna is confident the club will accomplish.
The 29-year old elaborated: “I’m confident Robin will stay. He was a complete professional from the beginning until the end and helped us into third. We want to keep him.
“Everyone is so grateful to him for what he’s done for the club and how important he is. He is our captain and he takes his role and responsibilities very seriously. He gives everything as a player and captain.”