Chelsea and Liverpool will be on transfer alert after Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood gave Theo Walcott a public warning over his contract negotiations.
The Gunners winger has a deal until the end of the season and is stalling on signing improved terms, but Hill-Wood has insisted the offer that was turned down by the England international and his representatives was substantial and that the north London club would not threaten their wage structure to meet Walcott’s demands
Speaking in the Daily Star, the long-serving Arsenal chairman revealed there had still been no agreement, but reassured Emirates Stadium fans that talks would continue, though these developments will likely interest Roberto di Matteo at Chelsea and Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool – both are credited with an interest in Walcott.
Since refusing to sign a new deal, Walcott has found himself regularly left out of Arsene Wenger’s starting line-up, with Gervinho, Lukas Podolski, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and even Aaron Ramsey being preferred in the wide positions.
“We have got our general overall wage structure and we are not prepared to break it for anybody,” said Hill-Wood.
“We have made an offer which he didn’t think was acceptable and that is the end of it. We think it is a very reasonable offer.
“For the moment his people are still talking to us and we hope it will be resolved. But don’t ask me when, because I haven’t a clue.”
The report claims Arsenal’s offer of £75,000 per week was knocked back over an issue with issue rights, but the Gunners hierarchy seem resolved not to budge on that figure – a sum that could easily be exceeded at Chelsea and Liverpool if no transfer fee were required.
Roman Abramovich has already shown a willingness to spend big for Roberto di Matteo this summer, what with the big money signings of Eden Hazard and Oscar, and Walcott’s wages would not be a problem for him.
Liverpool, meanwhile, may struggle to convince the 23-year-old to move to Anfield if they cannot secure Champions League football and continue to struggle in the Premier League.
Arsene Wenger has repeatedly stated he would like the player to stay with Arsenal and Hill-Wood echoed this sentiment, though bemoaned the current climate of player wages.
“I hope that he will eventually come round and sign. It will be a pity if he does not, but the whole issue of pay for footballers has got totally out of hand and they don’t get terribly well advised a lot of the time,” he added.