May 24 2013 Latest news:
by Paul Chronnell
Thursday, July 26, 2012
Robin van Persie’s statement was brutal, but perhaps he has been more honest than Theo Walcott
Robin van Persie won’t be signing a new contract. Theo Walcott says he might be, but at least Laurent Koscielny has put pen to paper on a new deal. But this has been another worrying week for Arsene Wenger.
The Gunners boss broke his silence over his captain’s future last weekend, and the similarity to his stance over Samir Nasri a year ago was clear. Arsenal don’t want to sell, he said, but everyone knows they probably will, at the right price.
That price appears to be £20 million, which Manchester City can definitely pay, Juventus probably can’t and Manchester United probably won’t. Nothing is clear-cut yet, and the possibility of Van Persie starting next season at Arsenal cannot be discounted.
The situation with Walcott is even more convoluted, despite the England midfielder’s forthright claims this week that there is nothing to worry about.
“I’m an honest guy. I like to get on with my job. I’ve got to work on pre-season, I don’t want any distractions,” said Walcott on Tuesday.
“My agent and the club will continue to talk and when there’s something to know I’ll get involved.”
Walcott has got a knack of smiling and saying the right things, but in this case you wonder if Van Persie’s brutal statement earlier this month is actually more honest. Walcott is 23 years old and worth an awful lot of money. Arsenal have been trying to tie him down to a longer contract for almost a year now, and his casual dismissal of it as somebody else’s problem was a little trite, even for a 21st-century Premier League footballer.
Quite how Arsenal have let it get to this stage is quite another question. The mistakes of the last few years, that have seen Mathieu Flamini leave for nothing and Nasri and Gael Clichy effectively force moves by not signing new deals, have been repeated.
Allowing a talent like Walcott to enter the final year of his contract, as he now has, is criminal in the era of player power.
“It was always going to be [a case of] hold back until the end of the Euros,” added Walcott of his contract negotiations. “We continue to talk and we’ll just see where it goes.”
The stumbling block, as ever when it comes to Arsenal and contracts these days, is money – or more specifically, wages.
Walcott wants a deal at least approaching the same pay bracket as the one Arsenal were about to offer Van Persie (£140,000 a week) until their captain made it clear earlier this month that he wasn’t interested in signing it.
Walcott denied that this week: “The money in football is good but that is not why I turned professional. As a player, you want to win titles, which Arsenal have not been doing, but I believe we will do so soon. It is more important than anything else in football.”
Again, Walcott seems to think that the actual winning of the trophies, like the decisions over his contract, are the responsibility of somebody else.
Amidst all this brinkmanship and self-interest, Arsenal fans can at least take some reassurance from Koscielny’s decision to prolong his stay at the Emirates.
Van Persie aside, the French defender probably did more than anybody to haul the Gunners up to third place last season, not least in scoring the winning goal at The Hawthorns in May that secured Champions League football for a 15th successive season.
“I’m delighted to have reached agreement with the club. I have had a fantastic time here and look forward to an exciting future with Arsenal,” said the 26-year-old on signing a new five-year deal.
Those are words of loyalty and commitment that Arsenal fans are just waiting to hear from the lips of Walcott, or even Van Persie. But nobody is holding their breath.