Many Arsenal fans are adamant that the Gunners need a new holding midfielder and a new centre-forward this summer at the very least, but it seems that Arsene Wenger has already made his mind up as to who will be our new striker to challenge Olivier Giroud next season.
Step forward……Theo Walcott! The Englishman has always maintained that he prefers to play as a hitman (a la Thierry Henry) and this point was alleged to be a big part of the previous “sign da ting” contract saga. Now that new extension talks have begun with Theo, Wenger has revealed that he seriously thinks that Walcott could be Arsenal’s main man down the middle.
“It’s not too late for him (Walcott) to become a striker,” Wenger said on ESPN. “I think his position will be striker. I work with him in both situations, as a striker and as a wide player, but the quality of the runs is so fantastic with the pace he has.
“He is a good finisher now. When he was younger he was rushing his finishing, but he is a good finisher now. I bought him at Southampton when he was 17 because I believe in his qualities as a good finisher and now the timing of his runs are very intelligent.
“He’s at the best age, being born in 1989. Being 26 to 32 as a striker is the best age as a striker and I wouldn’t like to miss that golden age.
“He is naturally gifted to play in this forward position, but he has different qualities. Olivier Giroud has a physical presence, back to goal, can head the ball. Theo is more a guy who is a runner, who goes behind.”
Walcott has hardly played since his year out wth injury, but Wenger reveals that this was simply because the England international simply was not at peak fitness, and even if Theo decided NOT to renew his contract then he would face the same problems wherever he goes. “You will ask whether he will play enough anywhere he will go because he will only be in a big club and in a big club the competition is there,”
“He played over 200 games for us. In fact, of the whole squad he is the player who has played the most games for us. Nobody has played more for us than Theo Walcott. I think he has played 202 games and that means he is part of us.
“What happened recently is that he has been out for a year. The time to be competitive again is longer than you expect when you are a player. He is now sharp again, but it took him a while to get back to that level. They always think they are ready but he was not. Now he is ready.”
So what does this mean? Will Walcott now be returned to the starting line-up, and will he straight away replace Giroud? I don’t think so right now. There is too much at stake for Wenger to experiment at the moment. Perhaps he has told Walcott that he will be staying next season without signing a contract extension so that Le Prof can try him out at centre-forward?
One thing that this does tell me is that Wenger WILL NOT be buying yet another out-and-out striker in the summer transfer window!