It’s over ten years since Arsenal signed Theo Walcott from Southampton for a fee of around £12 million. However in the decade since the move, he is yet to live up to the hype, and it may be time for Arsenal to let him go.
At 27, it still seems that Walcott isn’t sure what his best position is. He has been deployed mainly as a winger by Arsene Wenger, but the Frenchman has now said he expects to use Walcott as a striker, despite his wish to remain on the wing.
Even though he has made over 300 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions, Walcott has never nailed down a spot in the starting XI at the Emirates. Injuries and poor form have meant he has spent a lot of time out of the Arsenal side, and with more talented players at the club, he may continue to struggled for game time.
His performances at Arsenal have regularly fallen short of expectations, and the statistics don’t read well. Only once has he reached double figures in terms of goals in a Premier League season, and it is the same case when it comes to assists.
In recent years, Wenger has spent big to improve his attacking options. Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have joined from Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid, while Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain have also come to North London. In terms of quality, Walcott is way off the competition.
Alex Iwobi also had an impact at Arsenal after coming into the first team at the end of the season, and looks like an exciting prospect. Walcott staying could mean that the 20-year-old receives less first team opportunities, and that would certainly hinder his progress.
A new start elsewhere might also be a good thing for Walcott, who found himself out of the England squad for Euro 2016 in the summer. He will have the chance to play more regular first team football elsewhere, and that will improve him as a footballer, and improve his chances of making it back into the England squad under new manager Sam Allardyce.
There is still the feeling that Walcott has yet to unlock his potential, and having been at the club for over a decade, it seems unlikely this will happen at Arsenal. A move away from the club would benefit both parties.