Arsene Wenger admits Theo Walcott’s lengthy injury lay-off could force Arsenal into the transfer market for a new striker this month.
The England international had been in fine form of late, but was stretchered off during the second half of the 2-0 FA Cup third round win against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. Although the injury didn’t initially look too serious, it was later revealed he had suffered ligament damage which will sideline him for the rest of the season.
As well as being a blow for England’s chances of progressing in the World Cup Finals in the summer, of a more immediate worry, he will play now part in the Gunners’ quest to end a silverware drought which dates back to 2005. Whilst Wenger feels he has enough in his squad to cope with Walcott in the wide areas, he has admitted the loss of the 24-year-old as a striker could force him into the transfer market this month.
“Let’s not forget about Serge Gnabry who can play in the first team,” he told the club’s official website. “We have Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain back and we have many other players who can play on the flanks. We lose Theo as a potential central forward and that’s maybe where we have to look outside. But we hopefully have Nicklas Bendtner back in three weeks. We are there for the opportunities but it’s very difficult at the moment.”
The speculation surrounding former Tottenham and Manchester United forward Dimitar Berbatov, currently of Fulham, with a move to the Emirates Stadium has died down over the past week, but there remains a possibility that Wenger could persuade Real Madrid to part with Alvaro Morata, which would likely be on an initial loan basis.
The 21-year-old, who has scored 12 goals in 11 appearances for the Spanish Under-21 side, has made 12 appearances for Los Blancos this season, yet just one of these has been as a starter. He still has another year remaining on his contract at the end of this current season, but he admits he may have to look elsewhere for regular first team action.
“It’s important to have a proper role in the team,” he said. “I’ve been at Real Madrid my whole life and I’ve been a Real Madrid fan since I was a boy. I will be all my life but it’s important to have an important role. If the moment comes that I don’t, I will look at other options. Staying at Real is complicated. You have the chance to get on the pitch and try to change a game in a short space of time. Every minute in football is gold.”