Theo Walcott will be desperate to rejuvenate his career next season after enduring another frustrating campaign in an Arsenal shirt.
The last two years haven’t been kind to the 26-year-old as injuries including a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament prevented him from cementing a place in Arsene Wenger’s plans.
His stock has recently hit an all-time low following his exclusion from Roy Hodgson’s Euro 2016 England squad, which will see him miss out on the third major international tournament of his career.
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Once considered a rising star for both club and country, Walcott has been testing the patience of the Gunners faithful even when fit – not least since penning a £140,000-a-week deal keeping at the Emirates until 2019.
While the former Southampton prodigy divides opinion among Arsenal fans, it’s difficult to ignore the most glaring weakness in his game regardless of which side of the fence one sits on.
Even at the age of 27-years-old, Walcott is yet to establish his primary position. Despite his protestations, he lacks the positional instinct to classify as a natural striker, yet his inconsistent crossing and final ball underline his one-dimensional approach to playing out wide.
Walcott registered nine goals and three assists in 42 appearances – 21 from the bench – this season, but those numbers simply aren’t good enough for him to be considered world-class in either role.
This identity crisis has been severely detrimental to his prospects of nailing down a regular slot in the Arsenal first team, and the longer it goes on, the more likely he will continue to underwhelm.
Now with Olivier Giroud, Joel Campbell, Alexis Sanchez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and even Alex Iwobi arguably representing more favourable options in the wide and central attacking roles, Walcott’s time could be up.
However, that’s not to say he has nothing to offer – in fact, the out of favour England international looks to be a perfect fit for one of the Gunners’ fiercest rivals.
While it may raise eyebrows among both sets of fans, Chelsea should consider snapping up the Arsenal speedster.
The prospective move makes sense for both parties.
Walcott is dire need of regular football and has expressed his desire to play as a striker, while Chelsea will almost certainly look to replace loanees Radamel Falcao and Alexandre Pato this summer. What’s more, the Gunner would add to the Blues’ rather short homegrown player list.
Arsenal, too, essentially no longer have any use for him – an assessment that will become less debatable if Wenger bolsters his squad to enhance their domestic and continental title ambitions.
The Sun reports both Chelsea and West Ham are keeping tabs on Walcott, though with the latter believed to be leading the race to secure his services, the west Londoners could miss their chance unless they act soon.
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