Today, Theo Walcott said his contract negotiations with Arsenal have been protracted due to “football reasons.” The winger made pains to stress the delay has nothing to do with money, and everything to do with, well, football. To which, Arsenal fans are presumably expected to say, “Carry on.”
At first glance, Waclott’s attempt to compare himself with Thierry Henry comes off as a stretch, but in the context of his remarks, they make sense. Henry joined Arsenal when he was 22. Walcott is now 23. Moreover, Henry’s career took off at Arsenal with a switch from the wing (his position at Juventus in 1999) to centre forward. Prior to his inaugural season at Highbury, Henry had scored 23 goals in a 121 combined appearances at Monaco and Juve; Walcott has scored 31 goals in 174 matches.
Yet underlining all this is the tactical prowess and knowledge of Arsene Wenger, the man credited for transforming Henry into an out-and-out start with a mere positional switch. Wenger’s hinted at a similar change for Walcott in the past, and made comparisons with Henry as far back as 2010:
“Theo can be a prolific goalscorer,” Wenger said. “Once he is a yard in front of the defender no-one can catch him. He is very, very close to playing that striker role. Is Thierry a replica of Theo? Is Theo a replica of Thierry? No. But they have in common tremendous pace, they are good finishers and both are intelligent.
“In England, you are very impatient. Thierry Henry came here at the age of 23 and Theo is 21. Give two more years to Theo and imagine what he will be. Don’t forget that when Thierry Henry came here, he was a winger. When I played him as a central striker, he said to me ‘but I can’t score goals’.
“However I knew Thierry when he was 14 and at 15 I knew he could score goals when he played central. Then I left Monaco and they moved him to the flank but I knew in my head he could do it. It looks to me now that Theo has a calmness in front of goal. Before he rushed his decision but now he is different.”
It’s not clear if Wenger is not yet satisfied he’s ready to move from a wide position, or whether Walcott’s services are more urgently required on the wing for the time being due to personnel constraints. Ultimately only Wenger knows. I’m not a betting man, but I’m willing to bet it will take more than the threat of an early exit to change his mind. No doubt Walcott will have suitors, happy to afford him a few cracks at the CF bat. But it’s a major gamble for a 23-year-old to question the judgment of one of Europe’s most esteemed tacticians.
Toronto FC v Aguila – CCL Match Preview
Scottish striker Kenny Miller enjoying life as a Vancouver Whitecap.
Patrice Evra not feeling any extra pressure with Buttner’s arrival.
Eden Hazard admits he was tempted to play for Tottenham before choosing Chelsea.
Glen Johnson and Steven Gerrard urge referees not to judge Luis Suarez by his reputation.
“We have to give Olivier Giroud time” - Arsene Wegner
John Terry ignored Roy Hodgson’s plea to reconsider retirement.
Liverpool’s Martin Kelly set to miss six months with knee injury.
Rio Ferdinand hoping for England return after John Terry’s retirement.
John Terry and the FA – Day Two
Darren Fletcher aiming for his first start in 10 months against Newcastle on Wednesday.
Wayne Rooney aiming for an early return against Newcastle on Wednesday.
Alan Pardew confident Papiss Cisse will end his goal drought.
Joleon Lescott hoping for a new contract with Manchester City.
Gaston Ramirez happy with life at Southampton.
Referee Mark Halsey complains to police about Twitter abuse after Manchester United – Liverpool match.
The FA plans to bid for Wembley to host the semi-finals and final of the 2020 European Championship.
Thomas Hitzlsperger on trial with Everton.
Roma awarded 3-0 ‘walkover win’ against Cagliari after Sunday’s match was postponed due to security issues.
Fiorentina v Juventus – Match Preview
Alberto Gilardino is already halfway to earning his €50,000 bonus after just three games.
Barcelona set to hold talks with Xavi over a new deal for the 32-year-old.
Real Madrid v Rayo Vallecano – Match Report
Sergio Ramos ready to put ‘issues’ behind him and focus on Real Madrid.
Sevilla continue its unbeaten streak to start the season.
Bayer Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt aiming to continue their perfect starts to the season.
Kevin de Bruyne hoping for Chelsea return after his loan spell at Werder Bremen.
Bits and bobs
Arsenal has lost a lot of great players, but Thierry Henry is by far the best one.
John Terry loses his deal with Umbro due to his racial abuse allegations.
Former Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann’s interview with The Mirror.
Casillas and Alonso combine to make two amazing plays.
Probably one of the funniest Twitter accounts that has to do with football.
Since he’s not scoring, here’s a video of Olivier Giroud scoring (Wenger wasn’t lying, he actually can score).
If found guilty, John Terry has some options.