Theo Walcott celebrated ten years at Arsenal earlier this year, with a record of 231 games and 55 goals. That equates to one goal every 4.2 games. Walcott hasn’t kicked on in the manner Arsenal fans would have liked. His transfer fee of £5m with £4.1m in performance related add ons (£9.1m total) ten years ago is the equivalent of £25m in today’s money (transfer fee inflation adjusted).
With the arriving and promising talent of Alex Iwobi and Joel Campbell, Walcotts’ first team opportunities are going to be limited. At 27 years old in his peak years Walcott needs regular first team action, with Welbeck also performing very well of late Walcott has slipped significantly down the pecking order.
Wenger ought to sell Walcott, to give the younger talent more chances, arguably ten years at Arsenal is long enough to prove your worth and Walcott has not done that. He has failed to cement his place in either his preferred striker role or in his role as a winger. Wenger has a habit of hanging on to players too long, with for example Arshavin, Podolski and Bendtner all staying way beyond their shelf life.
Selling Walcott would make a statement to the squad that people need to step up. Players cannot hide behind the excellence of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, and Alex Iwobi and Joel Campbell deserve the chance Walcott has had over the last ten years. Arsenal are also abundantly resourced in the role Walcott occupies with Alex Oxlade Chamberlain also being frustrated by the presence of Walcott.
Wenger has an opportunity to get peak value for Walcott, and he would be wise to take it. Walcott would also arguably benefit from a change of circumstances and surroundings to try and lift his career.
Arsenal under Wenger have bought many youth prodigies and of late only Fabregas, Bellerin and Ramsey have really delivered at the requisite level. All three of Wilshere, Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain have not delivered at the rate required in a top four club. Wenger needs a new clean sweep and selling Walcott will give opportunities to more up and coming talent, in Iwobi, Campbell and Wellbeck.
Throughout Wengers reign arguably, but particularly latterly he has always had too many midfielders and not enough Strikers. This been incredibly debilitating this season when the goals dried up between January to March.
The cost of retaining Walcott is limiting the development and first team time and opportunities to Iwobi, Campbell, Wellbeck and Oxlade-Chamberlain and this should be the main reason to move Walcott on.
Wenger should fund the purchase of a Dembele, Moratta, Higuain or Mandzukic by selling Walcott and re-balancing the squad balance between midfielders and Strikers. The striker options of Giroud and Welbeck are insufficient and it has cost Arsenal particularly dearly this season.
Ten years at any major club, is a fair crack and Walcott and the club will both benefit from moving Theo on. Wenger has a perfect opportunity to re-balance his squad with a top line striker and Walcott should be used to help fund that purchase.