Theo Walcott decides not to open contract talks until the summer

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Theo Walcott is refusing to open discussions with Arsenal over a new contract until the summer, despite the fact his manager Arsene Wenger is keen to begin talks with the England international now.

Walcott, who is Arsenal's longest serving player, has played a peripheral role at the Emirates Stadium since returning from a year-long injury lay-off in January.

The 25-year-old is keen to wait until the summer before making a decision over whether or not to sign a new deal, according to The Sun, and much could depend on how much game time he sees between now and the end of the season.

Arsenal want to hand Walcott five-year deal

Arsenal want to hand Walcott a new five-year contract worth in excess of £5 million-a-year, but the former Southampton starlet wants proof he is going to be a regular starter in the Gunners' line-up.

Walcott fears he may have been pushed down the pecking order following the arrivals of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona and Danny Welbeck from Manchester United.

Walcott spending time on the bench

Since returning from his anterior cruciate ligament injury, Walcott has started in just two Premier League matches and has been an unused substitute on four occasions, including the Gunners' previous three league fixtures.

That he was told to warm up and even strip off in preparation for being subbed on against Manchester United in the FA Cup on Monday before Wenger performed an unusual U-turn and opted to send on Aaron Ramsey instead will have done little to convince Walcott that he belongs at the Emirates Stadium.

Walcott in powerful position

Walcott, with his contract set to expire in the summer of 2016, is in a powerful position to call the shots.

Arsenal are keen for the rapid winger to stay at the club and should be deeply concerned by the possibility of him leaving the Gunners on a free transfer in around 15 months time.

If he decides he wants to leave the Emirates Stadium, Arsenal would need to listen to offers from interested clubs this summer - and a host of top teams, based in England and overseas, would surely be tempted to bid for the player who is a match-winner on his day.

Walcott will leave Arsenal - unless things chance

Walcott knows he would be a man in demand, despite missing almost all of 2014, but simply wants to play regular first-team football.

If Arsenal cannot afford him these assurances - and they must prove they can between now and May - then there's a real chance Walcott will leave the club this summer.

He wants to be a regular for England - but there's no way that can happen unless he's a regular for his club.

Arsenal fans: are you worried that Theo Walcott will leave the Gunners this summer? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!

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Premier League
Arsene Wenger
Theo Walcott

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