Hailed as the brightest prospect of his generation when he was named in England’s 2006 World Cup squad, Theo Walcott has failed to live up to expectations in the last six years.
Now, former Arsenal midfielder Stewart Robson has suggested that Arsene Wenger should cash in on the 23-year-old. ““He’s at his best when the game is stretched and he can come on as an impact player, but you can’t pay an impact player £75,000 a week,” Robson told Alan Brazil’s Talk Sport breakfast show.
Much of what Robson says is valid, particularly at a club like Arsenal, where value for money has marked both the highs and the lows of Arsene Wenger’s reign at the club. And with interest from both Manchester City and Liverpool, Walcott may see his future lying elsewhere.
City would certainly be able to satifisy Walcott financially but the England international is unlikely to get much more game time at the Etihad than he currently gets at the Emirates. With the likes of Silva, Nasri and Ballotelli on the books, Walcott would likely be left on the bench more times then he would hope for.
Walcott’s natural ability would be enough to land him a first team place at Anfield he would be sacrificising his opportunties to play Champions League football, and with the Reds current form it looks like Liverpool may not be playing in Europe’s premier club competition for some time.
Although he may not have developped into the player that many would have hoped at Arsenal, he still has a role to play at the club. Robson’s comments seem to underestimate the importance that an impact player like Walcott makes throughout the season.
Not only do impact players help win matches they help win trophies, something that Arsenal have failed to do in the last seven years.
If you asked Sir Alex Ferguson what he would have paid Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 1999, with the guarantee that the Norweigan’s goal would win them the Champions League, the Scot would bite your hand off at the equivalent of £75,000 in 1999.
Whilst Wenger, the board and even the fans may resent paying a player £75,000 a week to only play 15 to 20 minutes of football, if that period marks the difference between success and failure this season he may been seen to be worth ever penny.