Arsene Wenger is confident that Theo Walcott will sign a new contract with Arsenal, as he approaches the final 12 months of his current deal.
The England international will become a free agent at the end of next season unless he signs a fresh contract beforehand, and he has been widely linked with a move to Liverpool in recent weeks. Walcott has endured a difficult time at the Emirates Stadium of late, having returned from a long-term injury only to find his route into the first team blocked.
This has led to speculation that he could be tempted to snub a new deal in favour of a fresh challenge elsewhere, which would bring an end to his nine-year association with the Gunners. However, Wenger has outlined the importance of the 26-year-old to his future plans, and is confident the forward will eventually put pen-to-paper on a fresh agreement.
“Yes, I’m confident,” said the French coach. “I believe Theo Walcott has a great future. He’s just coming back from a very, very difficult injury and every week he’s getting better. He’s very young and I believe he will have a great goalscoring record in future because of the quality and intelligence of his game, therefore I would like him to stay with our club.”
Walcott has made just 13 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions this season, of which only five have been from a starting berth. He has been particularly frustrated over the past month as, despite being at full fitness, his only involvement came in the UEFA Champions League when he was given just 16 minutes of the ultimately fruitless win at Monaco.
Of a perhaps more pressing matter for Wenger is the futures of club captain Mikel Arteta and Czech ace Tomas Rosicky, both of whom are out of contract at the end of the current season. However, the Gunners boss insists he wants them both to stay, and added: “Yes, I think they will be here next season. We’ll sort that out at the end of May.”
Arsenal are in FA Cup action this weekend, when they are expected to get past Championship side Reading to earn a successive place in the final. And Wenger’s side also remain outsiders for a first league title since 2004, although they are seven points behind Chelsea who also have a game in hand. When asked if his team were still capable of overtaking the Blues, he said: “Mathematically, yes, but we have to win our games and that is all we can do.”