Arsenal are ready to open talks with Theo Walcott over an extension on his current £100,000-a-week contract, according to respected journalist Jeremy Wilson.
It seems only months ago that Walcott was heading towards a free transfer away from Arsenal. The forward rejected a five-year deal worth £75,000-a-week in January 2013 and was free to discuss terms with other clubs.
The 25-year-old eventually signed a three-and-a-half year contract worth a reported £100,000-a-week, putting a cork in his Arsenal future, but certainly not drawing a line under it. With the deal set to expire in 2016, Arsene Wenger is preparing to enter contract talks once again in a bid to tie his future down for the long term.
Walcott seemed to hold Arsenal to ransom over his alleged desire to play in a central striker role. Time and again the England international claimed that was the reason for contract talks stalling, but sources closer to the deal claimed the impasse was born out of money.
The news comes shortly after reports surfaced that Olivier Giroud had agreed a two-year extension on his current contract, keeping him at Arsenal until 2018. The Frenchman is currently sidelined with an ankle injury, but is still deemed an important part of Wenger's plans.
Like Giroud, Walcott is also sidelined with a long-term injury. Having injured his cruciate ligament against Tottenham in January, Walcott missed the World Cup and has only recently returned to training with the Gunners.
His long layoff threatens to take the edge off of Walcott's game. The forward relies on his incredible pace but may have lost a yard as a result of his most recent injury.
That may well have left Walcott in a vulnerable position when negotiating the new deal. His game has stagnated since his last deal was signed and it is highly unlikely he will be offered a pay rise.
His last deal was signed when he was a focal point for the team, but now it seems he will be fighting to get into the starting line up. Alexis Sanchez will be a formidable challenger for a position on the wing while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has always threatened to surpass his fellow Southampton graduate.
All the signs point towards a more long-term deal for Walcott. He will still be deemed as an integral part to Wenger's plans, but his lack of progression since January 2013 should make him more forthcoming to sign anything the Gunners put on the table.
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