Theo Walcott must leave in order to flourish
The man who was once predicted such a bright future has stuttered through his career thus far
As is so often the case with players heralded to have brilliant potential, Theo Walcott's career has very much been one that promised so much, but has produced marginal results.
Infamously having been called up for Sven-Goran Eriksson's England squad without having played a single Premier League game, much was expected of the 16-year-old who signed for Arsenal with an already burgeoning reputation.
However Walcott's career hasn't so much been one of goals and glory, as one of unfulfilled expectancy and continual criticism.
Over the last few season's he has stuttered and stalled at Arsenal, and despite having maintained a consistent place in the first-team squad, has only offered glimpses of why he was so highly lauded as he was growing up.
For me Walcott has now reached a stage where he simply has to start performing. At the age of 24 he is no longer a player who can be defended by the notion that he may still be developing and, whilst piers of the same age are beginning to excel at their respective clubs, Walcott will be found out sooner or later as either simply a late-starter or a player who was never equipped to hit the heights expected of him.
It's for the high chance that he might fall into the latter category that I believe his safest bet is a change of scenery.
The Arsenal squad is ever-evolving, but with the introduction of Mesut Ozil, along with the ironically great development of Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott is in danger of being overshadowed and ultimately left behind.
He is becoming less and less suited to Arsenal's tactics and match-day style and he'll only be able to lay claim to a solid starting place for so long.
Thus far his pleas to be played up front have been rejected, and you get the feeling that due to Wenger's dream that Walcott will one day be a world-class winger, he will never be given the chance as a striker. Wenger can dream all he wants, but for me, he's never going to become a world beating forward at the Emirates.
You only need to look as far as Daniel Sturridge to see how beneficial a change of scenery can be to a young player.
Certain comparisons can be drawn between the two Englishmen and, while it's unfair to pit their stats against one another in the wake of Walcott's injury, it doesn't take an expert analyst to realise that Sturridge's fortunes have improved immensely since his move from Chelsea to Liverpool whilst Walcott's have continued to stagnate.
At Stamford Bridge Sturridge was persistently played on the wing, and he never really had the confidence to draw on his natural abilities. Similarly Walcott, who is in his eyes being played out of position whilst out wide, never seems to have that real confidence to take people on or put the fright into defenders with jinxing runs or lung-bursting surges forward.
If he were to move to a club such as Liverpool or Tottenham, Walcott would be given the opportunity to essentially reinvent himself. The pressure constantly hanging over his head at Arsenal would be relieved and he would have the allowance to try new things accompanying the confidence needed to do so.
At 24 it really is make or break for the England international. With Wilfried Zaha bursting onto the scene, his England place is slowly but surely coming under scrutiny and if he wants to guarantee a World Cup spot he will have to be playing consistently well to fend off his positional rivals.
Walcott needs a sudden change to kick start a revival that could define his career. Moving away from Arsenal and the painful reminders of his performance-based deficiencies the club holds, is the only way.