Martin Keown's warning to Theo Walcott over contract issue

Arsenal are reported to have opened talks with striker Theo Walcott over a new deal.

Former Arsenal defender Martin Keown believes striker Theo Walcott shouldn’t take ‘liberties’ when negotiating his new deal as he isn’t a nailed on first-team player, the Daily Mail report.

According to a report in the Mirror last night, the Gunners have opened talks with the England international over extending his existing £90,000-a-week contract which expires in the summer of 2016.

It was a lengthy process getting the former Southampton youth star to sign his previous deal and Wenger is bracing himself for another contract battle this time around.

“The first contacts have been established with the embassy! We will see how that progresses politically. Walcott was difficult to convince (last time) and that’s why it took us much time,” he explained.

“We started very early with him but it was slow progress. He is very quick on the pitch but off the pitch, not always.”

Walcott spent much of 2014 on the sidelines nursing a long-term knee injury but since coming back in the New Year he has yet to establish himself as a first-team regular, making just two Premier League starts.

Wenger has an array of attacking talent available to him at the Emirates nowadays, and as such Keown feels Walcott can’t afford to over exert himself when negotiating a new deal.

“If you look at the number of games he has come off the bench it’s quite stunning. He hasn’t cemented himself after ten years that he has been at the football club,” he explained.

“It’s nothing new for Arsene Wenger, I think he wants to keep him there and you need that option and that pace that he gives you.

“But you couldn’t call him a first-choice player, it’s all about negotiations with Arsene Wenger. He’s laying down the message, ‘don’t take liberties, we will pay you a fair amount but don’t go over the top’.”

Since returning from injury, Walcott has scored three times for the Gunners including the all-important opener in their 3-2 victory over Brighton in the FA Cup.

The 25-year-old missed the North Londoners’ FA Cup success at Wembley last season, and he will be extra keen to be involved this time around as they bid to retain England’s oldest cup trophy.

Register for ARSENAL team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch