After signing with Arsenal as a highly-touted 17-year-old, Theo Walcott has never fully blossomed into the player he was supposed to be.
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Injuries have severely hampered Walcott’s career, as the speedy winger has only managed 21 league appearances for the Gunners over the past two seasons.
Now at 26, Arsene Wenger believes Walcott is entering the “golden age” of his career, and said the England international is in Arsenal’s future plans.
Being 26 to 32 is the best age as a striker and I wouldn’t like to miss that golden age. He can be transformed. He is naturally gifted to play in this position.
I work with him in both situations, as a striker and as a wide player but the quality of the runs is so fantastic with the pace he has. When he was younger he was rushing his finishing but he is a good finisher now.”
He is part of us. Of the whole squad he is the player who has played the most games for us.
He loves the club and I think he wants to stay. Once a player accepts talking to you, that means his first wish is to stay.”
Usually used out wide as a winger, Walcott has played spells at striker before. Now ten years into his career, it looks like Wenger has plans to move his speedster to forward permanently.
Health has been an issue that has kept Walcott out of Arsenal’s starting eleven, but moving to striker could pose other problems. Olivier Giroud has enjoyed a great season at the Emirates as the Gunners man up-top, while Alexis Sanchez was named to the PFA’s Team of the Year playing in a winger/striker role similar to what Walcott would slot into.
Walcott scored 21 goals in all competitions in 2012-13, the only season he played as a striker throughout the whole year. With Arsenal hoping to challenge Chelsea for the Premier League title next season, Walcott’s play could prove monumental for the Gunners.