With no resolution in sight, Arsene Wenger my look to find a replacement for Theo Walcott come January. The 23-year-old has been warned by the club that they will not be breaking the bank to secure his future services. Walcott has already rejected an improved offer of £75,000 per week and has recently spoken about his frustration at not playing as a central striker.
Peter Hill-Wood said: “We have got our general overall wage structure and we are not prepared to break it for anybody. We have made an offer which he didn’t think was acceptable and that is the end of it. We think it is a very reasonable offer. I hope that he will eventually come round and sign. It will be a pity if he does not, but the whole issue of pay for footballers has got totally out of hand and they don’t get terribly well advised a lot of the time.”
Arsene has said that he is prepared to play Walcott through the middle, just as he did with Thierry Henry, but does not know when. This may be enough to sway Walcott and get him to sign an extension. His cool finish against West Ham last Saturday showed that the Englishman is improving and now is more composed in front of goal.
However, should Walcott decide that money is the deciding factor, then he may leave come January. If he does so, Wenger may look to Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha. The Gunners have recently been scouting the 19-year-old and former Assistant Manager Pat Rice watched the young Englishman score twice against Burnley at the weekend. This was the second game in succession Zaha had scored twice, having done so previously in the game against Wolves. Zaha is highly regarding by Palace and it may take close to £12 million to trigger a move away from Selhurst Park.
Palace Manager Dougie Freedman has admitted that should the right offer come in, he may have no choice but to let Zaha go.
“When he’s ready and when I think he’s ready to go to the right club, I will tap Wilfried on the shoulder and tell him I can’t help him any longer,” Freedman said.
Zaha has fantastic technique, pace and has an eye for goal, making Arsenal the perfect place for him to continue his development. However, let’s wait to see what happens with Theo and his contract discussions first, before discussing possible replacements.