Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal will not attempt to sell Theo Walcott in January, even if that risks losing his services for nothing this summer.
The Gunners have not made significant progress in negotiating a new contract with Walcott and the situation seems reminiscent to that of former captain Robin van Persie, who ultimately joined cross-town rivals Manchester United this summer rather than playing through the last year of his contract at the Emirates.
In Walcott’s case, at least the player has indicated his desire to remain a Gunner and given the winger’s consistent recent form. which continued with a goal in the 5-2 derby win over Tottenham on Saturday, Wenger has no problems sticking by his side.
After answering with a firm “no” when asked about Arsenal’s intentions to sell Walcott in January and an assertive “yes” when pushed about the club’s desire to keep the England international, Wenger elaborated: “If I listen to you [media reports], then every day it gets more expensive.”
He added: “We continue in a positive way. I told you many times we have until the end of December to sort this out.”
In a more in-depth response during his post-match comments at Arsenal’s official website this weekend, Wenger explained: “I believe he is doing very well. I haven’t changed my mind on him.
“I always said I want to keep him and we [will] try to find an agreement. We haven’t found it yet but we’ll continue. He doesn’t play like somebody who wants to go and I don’t behave like somebody who wants him to go, because he plays.”
Walcott’s club and country teammate Jack Wilshere backed Arsenal’s stance to wrap up negotiations over a new contract at the club by the end of next month.
“He is an English lad and great to have around the dressing room. But that [contract status] is up to him, the boss and the board. They are going to do whatever they are going to do. I hope he signs,” Wilshere stated.
“We all know what Theo brings to the team. He has got pace, he can go behind and his movement and timing of the runs is probably the best around.
“He play anywhere – up front, right, left, central. He wants to play down the middle, so I think he will get his chance – he will just have to be patient,” the 20-year old concluded.