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Arsenal are prepared to allow Theo Walcott leave in the January transfer window, rather than running the risk of losing him for free at the end of next season.
Both Everton and West Ham are reportedly keeping tabs on the 28-year-old, who has fallen down the pecking order at the Emirates. Walcott has played a mere 46 minutes across three Premier League games so far this season and, according to The Sun, Arsene Wenger could let the former Southampton winger go in January in a bid to raise funds for a replacement.
Walcott has 18 months left on contract but looks unlikely to commit to a new deal and Arsenal are desperate to avoid a repeat of the scenario that has unfolded with Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
The former has turned down Arsenal’s offer of a new contract and will leave the Emirates in the summer, with PSG and Manchester City among the favourites to land him. The latter, meanwhile, was offered a new deal back in February, only for negotiations to be quickly put on hold amid the uncertainty surrounding Wenger’s future.
The Frenchman eventually penned a two-year extension to remain in north London but negotiations over Ozil’s contract have not yet resumed and the 2014 World Cup winner could follow Sanchez’s example and walk away for nothing at the end of the season.
On Tuesday (3 October), reports suggested Ozil could be reunited with Jose Mourinho at Manchester United, as the Portuguese remains a huge admirer of the Germany international, whom he coached at Real Madrid.
Walcott, who scored twice as Arsenal beat BATE Borisov in the Europa League last week, is understood to be considering his options ahead of next summer’s World Cup. The 28-year-old has not played for England since winning his 47th cap in a friendly against Spain in November last year but the prospect of leaving Arsenal and playing more regularly could bolster his chances of earning a recall.
However, finding suitors could be problematic for Arsenal, given Walcott’s £110,000-a-week salary makes him one of the Gunners’ highest paid players.