There came a time where Theo Walcott was widely regarded as the future of English football. A possible partner in crime for Wayne Rooney, and an heir to Thierry Henry at Arsenal. But now, with the player 26-years-old and still carrying around unfulfilled potential, things look very bleak indeed.
His poor performance against Manchester United on Sunday promoted Gunners supporters to voice their discontent on social media. Even on a day where Mesut Ozil faded and Alexis Sanchez was anonymous, it was the shambolic display of Walcott that irked the Arsenal fanbase the most.
And this summer the club have a decision to make. Yet given the way his development has stunted, it should be an easy one. Arsenal should sell Walcott this summer, and use the money to try and land a marquee winger to help ease the burden on Sanchez and Ozil when the pressure is at its highest.
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The defeat on a sunny day at Old Trafford was particularly chastening given the way Louis van Gaal was without marquee names such as Rooney, Anthony Martial and Bastian Schweinsteiger.
Walcott was given the task of exploiting the lack of experience amongst full-backs Guillermo Varela and Tim Fosu-Mensah, particularly with the latter making his club debut, but the winger fared disastrously and was substituted for Olivier Giroud with just over half an hour remaining.
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He touched the ball just 17 times in his 63 minutes of action, with his atrocious display prompting Match of the Day duo Alan Shearer and Ian Wright to criticise the England international.
With Danny Welbeck back in action, and Daniel Sturridge now having returned for Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, Walcott faces a huge battle to regain his form with the European Championships in the summer edging closer and Roy Hodgson’s selection options enhancing by the week.
Arsenal have tried being patient – Wenger has done everything to try and utilise the former Southampton winger the best way he can – but a decade after signing for the club he is still yet to be a talisman. The odd purple patch of form is not enough to make up for a decade of inconsistencies.
What was obvious in the 2-0 home Champions League defeat to Barcelona in midweek was just how far the club are currently trailing the best clubs in Europe at present. Very few clubs – or any – can handle Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar playing and performing at the peak of their powers.
Arsenal should move Walcott on and attempt to sign a marquee name in his place. The club needs superstars to win the best prizes on offer, not a player living off past promise.
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