James Olley of the London Evening Standard (who you may remember from our Transfer Window Primer, in which we described him as "round[ing] out the tief of journalists whose reporting would really pique [our] interest" and one who "frequently get[s] good scoops and, more likely than not, [is] going to be correct") reports that Pep Guardiola has added Theo Walcott to his list of potential summer signings for his first season in charge at Manchester City.
Olley claims that Walcott "is one of a number of players who has become increasingly baffled by his treatment from manager Arsene Wenger in recent weeks as the team's form has dipped alarmingly." The 27-year-old Englishman has not started a Premier League match since February 28 and is one if not the most senior players on the team, so his frustration is understandable - however, it's not as though the English international has been setting the world alight when Wenger has selected him. In 15 league appearances this year, Walcott has contributed only 5 goals and 2 assists this season. In his recent cameos, Walcott has looked mediocre at best, losing the ball and making frustrated Arsenal fans wonder why we're paying him £140,000 per week.
According to Olley, that figure would be no problem for City. Guardiola has apparently long admired Walcott ever since he came on and completely changed the game in 2010 against Guardiola's Barcelona side. City would also benefit from Walcott's homegrown status under UEFA regulations that have been bothersome to a side with little demonstrated interest in English talent. City also are apparently considering Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain for the same reason, but Pep is primarily interested in Walcott. The question remains whether Guardiola will provide Theo with the opportunity to play center forward, as he has been demanding for years, which would require him to compete with a top-tier striker like Sergio Aguero.
To be honest, a change of scenery would probably be good for Walcott and Arsenal could likely demand a decent transfer fee for the seasoned international, even if his production and minutes this season have been well below par. Arsenal fans seem to largely have moved on from any hope that Walcott could truly be a center forward or a real solution on the wing. At this point, though, Olley's report only says that Guardiola has "asked City to monitor Walcott's situation closely." It's not much smoke, but it's a little and the source is relatively reliable. Stay tuned.