Following his pulsating display of attacking class against Newcastle on Saturday, Theo Walcott and his representatives can expect several more phone calls this January from clubs eager to sign him up when his contract runs out in the summer.
The England international has long been admired by some of Arsenal’s Premier League rivals, but following his demolition display – including a second-half hat-trick – some of Europe’s leading lights are now also expected to register their interest in Walcott.
Arsene Wenger though, despite not having had the best of success with contract rebels in recent years, remains confident that he can persuade the man he signed from Southampton for ￡16m in 2006 to stay at The Emirates.
Wenger’s methods of persuasion have been evident for all to see. Finally granting Walcott’s desire to play as a striker instead of out wide, he has also given the 23-year-old set piece responsibilities.
And Wenger must have been impressed with what he has seen, with his new lone frontman bagging ten goals in his last ten appearances in an Arsenal shirt. His off-the-ball running and unselfish play has also seen his supporting cast thrive, in particular Santi Cazorla and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose respective form has seen a notable upturn since Walcott’s promotion to the man at the top of Arsenal’s attacking diamond.
However, as Wenger no doubt knows, the cruel irony of it all is that Walcott’s success of late has also upped the competition for his signature, with Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Inter Milan now having reportedly joined a list of admirers that already includes Liverpool and Chelsea.
There can be few better bargaining tools in football than scoring goals and rival interest, and it leaves Walcott – and his agent – in a very strong position ahead of their next round of talks with Arsenal.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date