Wenger says winger may be left out if he doesn’t extend deal.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has warned it will be “difficult” to extend Theo Walcott’s contract if the forward has not agreed a new deal by April.
Walcott is in the final year of his contract and rejected a new five-year deal worth £75,000 a week in August.
“If in April it is not done, you can think it will be difficult to do,” said Wenger of further planned negotiations.
Wenger also suggested that he may be reluctant to select the 23-year-old if an agreement is not reached.
Walcott has started only one game so far this season – the club’s opening Premier League match against Sunderland – and received a mixed reception from the home fans when he was introduced as a substitute against former club Southampton at Emirates Stadium.
Wenger insisted that the England international’s place on the bench was not a consequence of his failure to agree new terms, but admitted that it may come into consideration if the matter remains unresolved.
“I still hope to extend his contract so, at the moment, it doesn’t affect me. Of course at some stage…” the Frenchman added ahead of his side’s opening Champions League match against Montpellier on Tuesday.
“You want your players to be supported no matter what kind if contractual situation they are in. I hope it will not affect him and that it will not affect our fans.”
Arsene Wenger is playing a clever game.
By leaving contract-rebel Theo Walcott out of his Gunners team and hinting that the situation could continue until a new deal is agreed, the Frenchman is subtly putting pressure on the winger to sign.
Wenger’s suggestion that the stalemate could continue until next April also rules out the possibility that Walcott may be sold in January and the former Southampton star now faces the prospect of spending a season on the bench at the Emirates unless he agrees to the club’s terms.
There is a compelling argument that the bench is where Walcott belongs. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has already usurped his place for country and looks more than capable of doing so for club, while Gervinho illustrated against Southampton that he could be set for a great second season in the Premier League.
Walcott, meanwhile, has flattered to deceive at times in the Premier League and is arguably best employed as an impact sub – as he proved for England against Sweden at Euro 2012.
By claiming the 23-year-old contract situtation ‘doesn’t affect’ him, Wenger is putting on a brave face, however. It would be a massive blow for the north Londoners to lose yet another star player – even if he is better as a sub.
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