Not truly got my heard straight on this one today, other than for this supporter I will back Wenger and the board on this. This is not about our wage structure as we have offered RVP over £100k per week and Podolski is on £90k a week. Therefore this is purely a footballing decision. I feel Wenger is offering and it maybe a starting offer, what he feels reflects Walcott’s contribution to the team. If Podolski having acheived what he has in the game over a 10 year period, at the to level is on £90k somewhere under that seems appropriate. For Theo to ask for more than Lukas, Arteta and Vermaelen is on the face of it cheeky in the extreme (and I am being kind). So that is my small introductory contribution to the more considered thoughts of today’s guest blogger. Delighted to have the thoughts of James Wareing, yes @JamesArsenal1, he of the regular twitter polls. Over to James….
As another silly season draws to a close Arsenal are yet again confronted with another serious contractual dispute. With just 1 year left on his contract and, more importantly, just 2 days left of the transfer window Theo Walcott is still locked in transfer talks. While fans have been divided on his impact since he joined from Southampton in 2006 him leaving the club would I feel be a big loss.
Having canvassed fans’ opinions via twitter poll last night 60% would still offer him a new contract while only 35% would sell him. While Arsenal insist that contract talks are still ongoing and it does appear Theo himself also wants to reach an agreement time is running out. If Arsenal do not sort this out before September 1st they are likely to see him leave on a free next summer or a lower fee in January is something which would be very undesirable. Therefore it is imperative that Arsenal either sell him now or sort out a new contract.
The major stumbling block at the moment, as it is increasingly becoming at Arsenal, it money. For footballers money talks and I suspect Arsenal are not near Theo’s (or his advisers!) own evaluation. It has been widely reported that his demands are around £100k a week, a staggering figure that would make him the highest paid player at the squad, a status that I am sure we all agree he does not deserve. This then raises the question of do we really need Theo?
Admittedly when looking at Theo’s stats last season his assists do stand out. However for every assist you get with Theo you will see him tripping over the ball or another disappointing cross. Theo for me is a luxury player to have in the team. If you are a high-flying team you can take a player like Theo along with you. He is a player that, for large parts of a game, will have little impact. His strength is clearly his pace and his ability to use this on the counter attack or to get behind the opposition’s back line. However when teams sit back with 10 men behind the ball, such as Stoke, his impact is less productive or some might say negligible. His lack of strength lets him down as does his ability to beat a player 1 on 1. It is in these games when it is clear that there is a distinct lack of penetration from us, that you need a player who can make something happen. A winger who can beat his man or spot a decisive pass, qualities I believe that he does not possess.
So over the next two days it seems Arsenal have a lot of key decisions to make, the most significant of which is Theo’s future? For me I wouldn’t mind either way which decision is taken except that this doesn’t drag on and create another bitter saga.
Thanks James. A considered and well constructed analysis and I will now add a few facts to further the debate.
For me it all depends on the formation.Wenger has often hinted that he will eventually play Theo down the middle but this will certainly never happen in our current 4231. Theo will never be a sole striker as strength, holding the ball up and bringing others into play are not in his locker. Pace and finishing however are, so if Wenger, as he has hinted, might move to a 2 striker system on occasion Walcott as the furthest forward makes perfect sense.
If however we are to persist with Theo played wide I do struggle to see how we can justify making him the clubs top earner. Even the England Manager appears to turn to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ahead of Walcott. He does this because the end product is more reliable and consistent. Of Theo’s 134 crossed in 2011/12 only 18 found another Arsenal shirt. So the 10 assists for RVP perhaps masks the true picture?
So there you have some food for though from James and I. Just to add further to the debate we threw a poser out there this morning on twitter concerning Theo Walcott and Nani. In a similar period of EPL football Theo has 151 games, 26 goals and 41 assists and Nani has 125 games, 24 goals and 73 assists. There really is no comparsion. Would Nani moved to Arsenal and would we offer him the same as Podolski? Ferguson certainly owes us a favour.
Many have said you hated him and he is a diver and a cheat. Just to play devils advocate for a second, the best wide player, with the possible exceptions of Giggs and Ronaldo the league has seen was Bobby Pires. 216 games, 62 goal and 79 assists. Now every fan outside of Highbury though Pires was a diver and a cheat.
James ran a second twitter poll and the vote bewteen Nani and Theo was 52% 48% in favour of the United winger. Interesting as he is demanding show dowm talks at Old Trafford as he is now behind Young, Valencia and Kagawa potentially and the only club sniffing are Zenit. I am sure if we matched his current salary he would chose london over Russia and he is 100% a winner.
Thanks James for a great blog collaboration and follow @JamesArsenal1
Until next time thanks for reading