Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has urged Theo Walcott to sign a new contract at the Emirates, but admits he cannot offer the England international a guaranteed starting place, reports the Daily Mail.
The former Southampton prospect’s current deal with the Gunners expires at the end of next season, and his manager will be hoping he will not become the latest in a long line of recent players – including Robin van Persie – to have left North London for pastures new after contract negotiations stalled.
His wages have reportedly been a stumbling block, as he already earns £100,000 a week, and is expecting an increase with a new deal. Walcott is allegedly unsure whether he sees his long-term future at Arsenal, as first team opportunities have dried up this season.
The 25-year-old has only featured seven times in the Premier League this campaign, with just two starts. Long spells injured – along with the quality of the Arsenal midfield – has consigned Walcott to the bench in recent weeks. Having been an unused substitute in the last three games in all competitions, Wenger admits that using Walcott sparingly may scupper any future deal.
“Will his lack of playing time have an impact? Of course. I want him to stay and be a regular player but no matter where you go, if it is a big club you have to compete for your place,” Wenger explained.