Walcott contract: Arsenal must show more ambition than relying on injury-prone forward

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Walcott contract not enough to solve issues up front.

Arsenal look close to sorting out a new contract for Theo Walcott this summer, with the Guardian reporting that an agreement is close, while the Daily Mirror suggest it may even be done already.

The 26-year-old ended last season in fine form, scoring a hat-trick on the final day of the Premier League season and opening the scoring in the 4-0 win over Aston Villa in the FA Cup final, though he was largely anonymous for much of the campaign prior to that.

Of course, one of Walcott’s biggest problems has been relating to injuries and fitness, though it is still worth stressing that he came back midway through last season and still couldn’t make it into the Arsenal starting lineup, with more in the way of competition now at the club in the attacking midfield and striker areas.

The England forward’s performance in the cup final certainly makes a case for keeping him at the Emirates Stadium, but it would be extremely risky for the Gunners to rely on him as an option throughout next season. Recent rumours have linked the club with big names like Karim Benzema (via the Daily Mirror) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (via the Daily Mail), and fans should hope there is truth to these stories.

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Even at his best, Walcott is not the world class winger or striker that Arsenal need. In 2012/13, his best season with the club, he made 43 appearances and scored 21 goals in all competitions, not a great deal more than Olivier Giroud is offering at the moment, and fewer than the 25 Alexis Sanchez managed from a similar wide-forward/false-9 position last season.

For all Walcott’s qualities, he lacks the physical presence of players like Giroud and Sanchez up front, and also a variation to his play – it is hard to imagine him ever scoring a long-range screamer like his Chilean team-mate did at Wembley last season. For Arsenal to go to the next level, they need another signing like Sanchez, whose electrifying displays made the difference in so many games last season.

Arsenal have found a renewed ambition in the transfer market in recent times by bringing in players like Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, now they must do the same again this year – and not kid themselves that Walcott is the answer.

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