As a massive gooner (I mean in support, not in regards to my girth) I am just so exhausted. Every team has to deal with player issues so I’m not whining about the fact that we have them too (I say “we” because I feel with the amount of money I spend on Arsenal gear I should have part ownership of the team). But the on-and-off again affairs of its stars is just too much for my body to handle. I’m waking up in cold sweats, my eyes are bloodshot from having read every stupid report on the Internet that claims to have some inside information, and I now have clubbed thumbs from having tweeted on the issue ad nausea. Theo Walcott, as of the end of this article I am done with concerning myself with whether you still stay or go, as you have left my pint half empty.
Unless you are a supporter of that other North London team (yes, there is more than just Arsenal in North London, unfortunately), you will no doubt either feel sympathy or pity for Gunner fans at what has happened to us over the last couple of years. I’ve described losing Cesc Fabregas as a kick in the groin on a cold February morning, and I stand by that, but what caused the pain was the months of agony leading up to the decision. Is he gonna go? What can we do to keep him? And then there was the year’s worth of goading from the Barca players who all but committed the Spaniard to play for the Catalan club, as if they were in on the negotiations. Actually, maybe they were? That actually angered me. Samir Nasri left at the same time, but I don’t want to waste words on him.
And who could forget Robin van Persie not wanting to re-sign for the club in the months leading to his departure? We all kinda knew what that meant, but didn’t want to admit it. I knew he was going, and most other Gooners did as well. While we understood Cesc leaving to play where he grew up, RvP was a different animal – he turned his back on the club despite all it had done for him. The club – its manager and fans, supported him through all his difficulties with injuries and underachieving. So when he finally turned into the player we knew he’d become, he bolted. I hate guys like that as naive as it sounds.
But Theo Walcott is different. Wenger found him very early in his soccer career at Southampton, and brought him to the club. The potential was over-the-top, not only for AFC, but for England as well. It is debatable (for some, not for me) that he has not reached his potential yet, and for much of his career has not lived up to the hype, but still Arsenal have supported him. And now, as a 23-year old, he will likely have two big contracts that will take him through his best years as a footballer – perhaps one that will take him through about 27 years old, and one after that might see him through late 20’s and early 30’s. He has time on his side, still.
Despite that, Theo Walcott has refused to sign an extension with the team that has seen him through thick and thin, instead hoping to garner interest elsewhere. As one Arsenal fan on Twitter correctly tweeted, his value on the market might be 100k per week, but his Arsenal value might be 80k per week. That is, there are many teams willing to overspend on players (ahem, Man City, Chelsea, PSG, etc) but Arsenal are not one of them.
It is a precarious situation for Arsene Wenger to be in. On one hand he has been told by management that he has 10’s of million to spend now that the club is financially very, very stable. On the other hand, Walcott knows this and is demanding Wenger to spend more than he thinks the winger is worth. And that’s the other issue – Walcott has been used as a winger, but insists on playing centrally. While he has had some success this year at putting the ball in the net, there is no evidence of sustainability in that department to warrant being the featured central striker.
Anyway, I’ve said what I’ve needed to say. I no longer care to discuss whether he will stay or go as I value my blood pressure and stress levels. I hope he stays and signs long term, but I won’t fret if he parts company with Arsenal.