Arsenal winger Theo Walcott is set to hold contract talks with the Gunners next week, but the England international will only put pen-to-paper on the new deal if Arsene Wenger can guarantee him regular playing time.
If Wenger is unable to offer Walcott what he wants, it could subsequently open the door for Arsenal to sign Liverpool winger Raheem Sterling, according to the Mirror.
They understand that Liverpool remain keen on Walcott, a boyhood Reds fan, and are keeping a close eye on the situation at the Emirates Stadium with serious doubts persisting over the future of Sterling.
Article continues below
While Liverpool have stated they have no plans to offload the want-away Sterling this summer, the opportunity to sign Walcott as his replacement may appeal to the Merseyside outfit.
The 26-year-old showcased his credentials on Sunday afternoon by netting a superb first-half hat-trick against West Brom.
Article continues below
Sterling is a big problem for Liverpool
At the same time, Sterling was left on the subs’ bench by Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers during the team’s humiliating 6-1 defeat to Stoke City.
Rodgers admitted after the match that Sterling was not in the right frame of mind to play at the Britannia Stadium.
Liverpool opted to cancel planned contract talks with Sterling last week after the 20-year-old’s agent, Aidy Ward, launched an astonishing attack on his star client’s current employers.
“I don’t care about the PR of the club and the club situation. I don’t care,” Ward was quoted as saying by the London Evening Standard. “He is definitely not signing. He’s not signing for £700, £800, £900 thousand a week. He is not signing.
“My job is to make sure I do the best with them [my clients]. If people say I am bad at my job, or they are badly advised it does not matter.”
Ward also labelled Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher a “k***” after the current Sky Sports pundit had criticised Sterling and his representatives for the clumsy manner in which they have handled the contract negotiations.
It seems increasingly likely that Sterling will not be at Anfield come the start of the 2015-16 campaign, so will he be at Arsenal instead?
Ultimately that could depend on whether Walcott agrees to sign a new contract with the Gunners.
Arsenal fans: would you rather have Theo Walcott or Raheem Sterling next season? Tell us by leaving a comment in the box below!