Ten years ago, Arsenal swooped for Theo Walcott believing they were signing the future of English football and a potential talisman for successful seasons to come.
At the time, it was heralded as a significant coup. This was a boy destined to make the big time, to grab games by the scruff of the neck and blast them to major titles. Has it ever happened?
There have been moments of the majestic but, a decade on from his decision to snub the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, it would not be an understatement to say he has not ever been the prospect his potential once hinted at.
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On a crisp January afternoon in 2006, Arsenal announced the signing of Walcott instilled with the belief that he could be their version of Wayne Rooney at Manchester United.
He was loaned to the Saints for the remainder of the campaign, and somewhat bizarrely made Sven-Goran Eriksson’s squad for the World Cup in the summer where he failed to make a single appearance.
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Despite that, the Gunners were confident they had made the right move and, with Thierry Henry there to tutor him, Arsene Wenger was confident a bright future lay ahead for him.
Walcott bagged a spectacular hat-trick as England downed Croatia in September 2008, on a night that only served to enhance the expectations surrounding him, but ever since he has struggled to truly make his mark for the Gunners.
Hit and miss
One of Walcott’s glaring faults is his ability to be sensational one afternoon and completely anonymous the next.
Inconsistency has always plagued him and hampered his development, consequently leading to constant speculation of a move away from the Emirates Stadium.
Wenger has often struggled to accommodate him into the starting XI in recent years, often trying him up top with Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain capable of performing on the flanks.
However, with Olivier Giroud now in the form of his life, there is no guarantee that he will make the starting line-up for their biggest games of the season that lie in wait.
Much to prove
Not including Mathieu Flamini, who left for AC Milan in 2008, Walcott is the club’s longest-serving player but far from its most influential.
Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are the two undisputed poster boys of the north London club and their hopes of winning the league title for the first time since 2004 hinge on keeping the duo fit for the remainder of the season.
Walcott is still not the player he could have been but has time to make amends. Failure to do so, and people will look back on his career as one of unrealised potential.
Should Arsenal give Walcott and extended run in the starting line-up or sell him? Have YOUR say in the comment box below!
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