Theo Walcott's Comments Smell Like An Exit Strategy

Lintao Zhang - Getty Images

The England's wingers comments are on a similar plane to that of Robin van Persie, but are less damaging.

If Arsenal have learned from the Robin van Persie saga of this summer, so too, it seems, have their other single-year-left on contract player, Theo Walcott. On the surface, Walcott's comments about wanting to be an "Arsenal legend", and wanting to play centre-forward are not so damaging. In fact, they sound almost placating, showing loyalty to the club. There, are, though, some things that should be a worry.

"It's not going to happen any time soon. That speculation on the money side of it has never been me. That's not me. I'm not the sort of person who's influenced by money.

"I always make my decisions based on football and only football. Hopefully something can be sorted out. I'll just wait for the club to get back to us now and go from there.

The fact that Walcott's re-signing is not going to happen any time soon is a concern, because once it becomes January, he is free to negotiate with any foreign club, and is 6 months away from being able to negotiate, officially, with a domestic club. So, once it's January, and Arsenal haven't signed Walcott to a new contract, he needs to be sold; otherwise, a player that Arsene Wenger invested nearly £10m on goes for nothing, and at the same age, 24, as Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas. That is not to suggest Walcott is on the same plane as those two; he clearly isn't. And there is something to be said about not paying Theo Walcott his apparent demand of £100k/week, especially as Arsenal have already been burnt by giving limited players extremely high wages.

And, obviously, the fact that the contract hasn't been signed is to do with money. There's not going to be a clause that says Walcott must play x amount of games at centre forward. There was an excellent remark on Twitter by Iain MacIntosh, where he said that Arsenal should take Walcott's words to heart, and offer £74,000 and the chance to play centre forward. Walcott very likely wouldn't sign that contract, because he wants more than what Arsenal are offering. Saying that he wants to play centre forward is, I'm sure, a desire of his. Perhaps he does want to stay, and does want to be an Arsenal legend. But, now, with these comments, he has, like Robin van Persie, something to point to to make him feel a bit better about his impending move. "See, guys. It wasn't about the money, but that mean Mr Wenger wouldn't play me at centre forward, even though I asked nicely"!

Don't let that get in the way of what this is truly about. It is, and always will be, money. But this time, you get the feeling that Arsenal don't particularly care if Walcott goes. At the moment, they're doing fine without him. Sure, it'd be nicer to have Walcott on the team, and there's still a chance for that, as Walcott hasn't burnt his bridges, like Robin van Persie. But, when you're at a point when there's 3 months to go before he needs to be sold, and the two sides are no closer to agreeing a new deal, and Walcott starts talking about footballing reasons, the writing is very much on the wall.

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