Theo Walcott opens contract talks with Arsenal - sources

It is understood that the Gunners attacker has begun preliminary discussions with the club over a new deal.

Arsenal have opened formal contract talks with Theo Walcott, HITC sources understand.

The Gunners have begun negotiations with the England international as they look to resolve his future by the end of the summer.

Walcott, 26, has got just over a year remaining on his current £100,000-a-week deal, which has alerted the likes of Chelsea and Liverpool to his possible availability.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said negotiations have already taken place, but Walcott has publicly denied that.

Sources close to the club have told HITC that Walcott’s representatives have now held preliminary discussions with Arsenal, although the player is likely to wait and see how he fits into Wenger’s plans before committing himself to an extension beyond 2016.

Walcott has an option in his current deal for a further 12 months on the same money that can be triggered by either party, although the forward is believed to be seeking a long-term contract.

The forward has been on the fringes of the Arsenal team since returning from a knee injury last November that had kept him out for nearly a year.

He is aware he could struggle for first-team opportunities at Emirates Stadium again next season as he vies with the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Olivier Giroud, Santi Cazorla, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey for a starting role.

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