Theo Walcott’s time at Arsenal could well be up in the last couple of days before the close of the transfer window – it may be best for everyone if he is sold.
In much the same way the attitude towards the Gunners winger has been since he moved to Emirates Stadium, some fans will be glad to see the back of him, while other will lament the loss of an important player.
Walcott’s refusal to sign a new deal marks the end of a mixed transfer window for manager Arsene Wenger, where he has had to relieve the pain of losing Robin van Persie and Alex Song by signing Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla.
Regardless of their individual feelings towards the England winger, nearly all Gunners will be frustrated by the prospect of even more deadline day scrambling in north London.
Walcott’s departure would not be a catastrophic blow on the pitch for Arsenal, but his loss would be magnified by events that have come to pass already this summer and the anger that accompanied them.
Wenger faces losing three of his most influential players from last season, each in their own special circumstances, but Walcott leaving would stand out from the other two as making more sense for all concerned.
Walcott’s future is a little like his career to date: uncertain. Last season saw him subjected to severe criticism from fans at Emirates Stadium, which occasionally turned to some inexcusable abuse.
His stuttering form summed up the situation the club found itself in mid-way around January time and he seemed to become the favourite target of those venting their frustration at the situation as a whole.
Frustration is no new sensation when it comes to the 23-year-old, with high expectations placed on him making the inconsistency he displays on the pitch highlighted further.
Perhaps this is why the prospect of him being sold has been met with a response verging on indifference by the club’s fans on social media sites; maybe they have finally become tired of the hair-pulling that accompanies watching him and just want the uncertainty to end.
Walcott’s confidence is visibly affected when he feels the ire of fans’ criticism and so his forgettable performances persist, creating a torturous cycle.
It is not easy for Wenger either, who has stuck with the former Southampton trainee for so long, continuing to pick him in the face of criticism.
You would also understand if the Frenchman felt a sense of personal failure were Walcott to leave the club, after continually insisting that he would come good and realise the potential that led so many to herald the 16-year-old boy as the next big name in English football.
Continual poor performances, a regularly hostile environment and contract brinkmanship look like they may have put paid to Walcott’s Arsenal future – but the fallout appears to be more about club transfer policy and timing, rather than urging the club to do more to keep him.
Such a response indicates many have already come to terms with the prospect of him leaving and are quite prepared for it.
There is no great love for Walcott amongst the majority of Arsenal fans and it is quite plain his development hasn’t gone as smoothly as expected.
It appears as though a couple of the Premier League’s bigger clubs would be interested in taking him on and so his development could well be refreshed from a new start in new surroundings, though there will always be the nagging feeling that he wasn’t able to truly prove himself in north London.
Even if he does end up signing a new deal, the reported wrangling for a bigger salary will not sit well with fans – just ask Emmanuel Adebayor.
He would also have to consistently reach heights he has only ever been able to glimpse up to now if he has any hope of winning over the fans.
His career to date shows there can be no certainty of this, so maybe it’s time for Walcott and Arsenal to shake hands and say, “It wasn’t terrible, but it just didn’t quite work out.”
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