After becoming Arsenal’s longest serving player, without ever cementing his place in the starting line-up, Theo Walcott is set to leave the Gunners in the summer to join London rivals West Ham.
As the Hammers prepare to say goodbye to the Boleyn Ground and get their team ready to embrace the thrill of the Olympic Stadium, co-owner David Gold revealed to fans that the club had placed a bid as part of their summer investment. Gold added further details to West Ham’s movement in the market, expressing that:
“We are going to make a £20m or £25m bid for a player in England this week. So whatever happens, we’ll bring a top striker in.”
David Gold, West Ham Co-Owner
Two major tabloid news outlets immediately latched onto the story, verifying that the target was England international Walcott, based on the information provided to them by sources ‘close to the club’… whatever that means. A move for Walcott would certainly make sense as his PR team have a history for sparking transfer rumours whenever Theo becomes unsettled at the Emirates.
Is Anyone Surprised That Walcott Is Set To Leave Arsenal?
It’s hardly a surprise that Walcott is considering his future elsewhere, nor that Arsenal are prepared to let him go. For his decade at the club, it’s difficult to remember a time where Walcott hit any kind of consistent form.
Arsene Wenger’s decision to finally use him as a central striker paid off in the early part of the season, as Walcott repaid the manager’s faith in him with strong performances against Leicester away and Man Utd at home. But in typical Theo fashion he faded away, unable to maintain the same level of performance and as the season progressed he’s played less and less.
When you think of Theo Walcott at Arsenal, you picture him sitting on the bench – I haven’t verified it, but I’m 90% sure Walcott would be Arsenal’s most photographed player on the bench:
It’s been all too familiar territory for Walcott this season too, even despite Giroud’s painstaking Premier League goal-drought from January 13th to May 8th, Arsene Wenger still didn’t start Walcott up front.
You can hardly blame Wenger for a lack of faith in the England man, who has just four goals in his last 32 Arsenal appearances. 19 year old Alex Iwobi has risen above Walcott in attacking pecking order over the past few months.
Wenger now only plays Walcott out wide when he has no other viable option. Whilst Walcott has long expressed his desire to start up front, his boss is now reluctant to do so.
Occasionally in football it can just turn stale for a player at a particular club – it really feels now that this is the case with Walcott and Arsenal.
Arsenal fans may be reluctant to let him go, as a move to West Ham could be exactly what Theo needs to thrive. The other side of the argument is that Arsenal could use the funds (suspend your disbelief) to bring in somebody who can provide the pace and goal threat, but on a more consistent basis.
Arsenal’s reported interest in Riyad Mahrez suggests that a wide forward may well be high on the manager’s shopping list for the summer window irregardless. As far as an emotional attachment goes, it may be hard for Arsenal to wish Walcott farewell. However, from a logical perspective it doesn’t make sense to keep such a pricey substitute on the books.