Here’s my belated tupporth on Theo, penned long after the issue’s been battered around the interwebs and beaten into digital submission.
Something’s likely to give this summer, one way or the other, because the run-the-contract-down option is unlikely to come to pass. Hence the stories that we are now seeing – whatever the truth in them.
Dipping my toes into Twitter today, it strikes me – reminds me is perhaps more accurate – how much Theo Walcott polarises people.
There’s lively debate on how far Arsenal should stick their necks out to keep him. We don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes but I’d guess that it’s safe to say that Arsenal would rather he had dotted and crossed a new deal already – although the crossing might have gone off the page – not because he has blossomed into the world’s deadliest winger, but because the club has long had a policy of securing young players on long contracts to protect its investment. (This same policy has, of course, backfired in some respects, as Arsenal find themselves unable to offload certain other players, but let’s gloss over that one for a moment. As you were. Carry on).
For the sake of argument, let’s say he’d stay if given £100k a week. No footballer is of course worth this kind of money, not in real life, but football as we known is far removed from reality. I suspect that kind of wage is pretty attainable for a 23-year-old English player, a regular international, with improving stats and zero personal baggage.
So that’s what he could probably get – potentially more depending who’s interested. That’s the market.
I’ve gnawed my fists more times than I can remember at his inconsistency – 7amkickoff’s got some good numbers to chew on – but my own view is that Walcott’s worth persevering with. There aren’t many players who are the finished article at 23. Theo has been catapulted into the limelight from the age of 15, but in the end he’s been something of a slow starter. He has however just had his most profitable season – and if you think what he was like at 20, compare that to now, and add three years of improvement, there’s no reason to think he won’t be better yet at 26.
But it’s complicated. As Arseblog says, if Arsenal want keep him, and he’s prepared to stay, then they’re going to have to swallow the cost – within reason – whether they think it represents good value for money or not.
If it’s all about the money, then he can probably hold the club to ransom and force its hand. If he wanted £150k a week, for example, well then he’d quite frankly be off his rocker – and Arsenal would be right to refuse.
Financial reasons for leaving – those I have grown to understand (reluctantly and bitterly) within the context of the last decade of petro-money. But if he doesn’t want to stay for other reasons and nothing would induce him to do so, then those reasons I’d find more troubling.
Should this be the case, or even a part of it, then the club would do well to ask ‘why doesn’t he want to stay’?
Some of the answer might not be very palatable, but if he does end up going – and van Persie goes too – then the very least they should do behind the scenes is to address some of the reasons why, to stop it from happening again, like a broken record, year after year.
Of course, I might have emptied a half-full glass when there’s no need to, and gone too far down the doom route. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.