Theo Walcott has agreed to the terms of a new three and a half year contract worth £100,000 a week to keep him at the Emirates but, whilst Arsenal have avoided losing another one of their best players, they’ll likely face it all over again in 3 years time.
Walcott rejected a five-year £75,000 a week deal back in August and also rejected a £90,000 a week five-year contract just a few weeks ago. Now, he’s a greed but I can’t help wondering what the club hopes to achieve by giving in to his wage demands and shortening the length of the agreement.
Fair enough, if they offered him £100,000 a week over a five-year period – that would, in the grand scheme of things, mean they held on to one of their most important young players until he was 28 years old.
However, in 2 years time Walcott will again be entering the final year of his contract, by which time he’ll be just 25 years of age with still the peak years of his career ahead of him.
The club are effectively putting a plaster over the cut or, more aptly, papering over the cracks in their transfer policy problems. I suspect they know exactly what this means for his future – he could leave on a free in the summer of 2016 to a rival club – but the club will feel they’ve put out a fire for the time being - also a fire they’ve paid almost £10 million for and spent nearly 7 years developing.
I don’t want to come across as a negative ‘doom and gloom’ perpetuator but I can’t help but feel this is a very shortsighted move on Arsenal’s part. I have no doubt the club have been held over a barrel a little bit by the player and his representatives but their failure to agree a genuine ‘long-term’ deal will mean they’ll be back being held to ransom by one of their key players in just a couple of season’s time.
The positives are that Arsenal hold on to their best performer of the season so far and their top goal-scorer and, perhaps more crucially, they avoid losing him for cheap or free this year.
In 3 years time Walcott’s value will likely have risen and, if they’re smart, they’ll offer him a new contract at the end of next season. If he refuses then to discuss his future, they can just offload to the highest bidder and probably double their money on his sale.
All of the nonsense about his ‘imaging rights’ domestically and abroad are just excuses – there is no doubt the player wanted more money over less time. Don’t be fooled into thinking Theo Walcott has pledged his future to the Gunners. He’s just extended his arm and held his hand out for a bit more cash to keep him sweet and Arsenal have done nothing more than added a couple of extra quid to his transfer fee.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald