The buzz this time around is that Arsenal are in the transfer market for a new striker, a type of player referred to on many occasions as an out and out striker, someone who could directly compete with Olivlier Giroud for the central striking role. Jackson Martinez of FC Porto and Gonzalo Higuain of Napoli are two names constantly linked with Arsenal. Fans and commentators alike are divided on who would be a better signing, with a large number of fans have often claimed that the Colombian centre forward would be a more realistic target.
While I do think that strikers with goal scoring records this impressive could only improve competition in the squad, adding another striker would have massive impact on a few things at Arsenal FC. One, would be that Arsenal would have Giroud, Welbeck, Walcott, Alexis and the new striker competing for 2 of the 3 positions upfront, presuming that Wenger would likely play a midfielder like Wilshere or Ramsey in the third position. This would therefore imply an overhaul in that position, and as many managers have pointed out, this would impact kind of competition amongst squad members that can possibly ensure consistency.
Second, the arrival of another striker would seriously affect the future of Theo Walcott’s future and/or role in the team. Wenger has said on a few occasions that Walcott will eventually play through the middle, and has been patient so that the England international is able to polish his finishing in addition to his blistering pace, his ability to pull defenders out of position and the immensely well timed runs, especially when opponents play with a high backline. More importantly, Walcott has been a long term project for Wenger, which he would not want to give up on, considering Walcott has reached an age where he could blossom into one of the world’s most lethal players. With this backdrop, 3 things become quite obvious in line with why the club must retain the Englishman’s services;
His Pace: Theo Walcott is arguably one the fastest players in world football. While pace in itself may not be an asset that can win one games, the fact remains that Walcott uses his best attribute to the team’s advantage. He is capable of timing his runs, pulling players ,especially centre backs out of position, and getting inside compact spaces with a quick drop of a shoulder, all of which have proven to be headaches for opponents with him playing striker. His stats, in themselves show that his goal scoring record has not been as good as many had expected. 50 goals in 208 PL appearances is not a stat that catches one’s attention.
Walcott has also been criticised for not having the expected level of composure and ball control that a team like Arsenal require, especially with players around him who are absolute masters with such attributes, (Cazorla, Ozil, Ramsey). Many a times his performances where he has assisted his teammates with goals suggest that Walcott is not better or worse, but comfortably good enough with these qualities in games and especially for a team like Arsenal. However, more than addressing what he may not be good at, it is important for the club to retain him for his biggest strength, which is his pace, and there is evidence to suggest that he knows what to do with it.
Wenger’s long due Walcott Project: Arsene Wenger bought Theo Walcott from Southampton at the age of 16. There is no doubt that Wenger could see him develop into a top class striker, having done the same with Robin Van Persie and club Legend Henry. Walcott is now 26 years old, and provided that the next 4 years are going to be his best years as a professional footballer, the amount of investments, both intellectual and financial, that Wenger and the club have put into Walcott, would be an absolute waste. The club would regret letting him go much more than many of the big players who have left before him, and so would the fans.
Loyalty: Theo Walcott is a gunner through and through. He loves Arsenal Football Club, and has spent important years of his career at North London already. He is also Arsenal’s senior most squad players, and will complete 10 years at the club in January 2016. Likewise, as said earlier, the club have also been persistent and patient with his development. He was out for a year, and as Wenger has said, a year in football is a long time. Regardless, Theo Walcott is an aggressive player with a clear knack for hitting the net. He is a different type of player from others who play in the same position as him, and undoubtedly gives the squad a little extra, and something different.
CONCLUSION: Many expected Walcott to be much better than he currently is. He has spent 10 years at the club and is not guaranteed a place in the starting 11. However, the club and Wenger have been patient with him only for a reason. In games that he has played well, scored, and created chances, he has performed ever so well. I do not know what to make of Arsenal’s bid for a new centre forward, but in so far as this will be a threat to Walcott’s place in the team, letting him go as a consequence would be a recipe for disaster. I am hopeful that he will be retained whatever happens in the transfer market.