Wenger backs down over Walcott deal ultimatum

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The Independent Online

Theo Walcott was told by Arsène Wenger yesterday that the club have backed down on their ultimatum that he must sign a new deal before tomorrow's 11pm transfer window deadline or face the prospect of being sold.

The 23-year-old sought a meeting with Wenger, having resolved to resist any attempt to move him on over the next 48 hours unless he was convinced it was in own his interests. Walcott has also not signed the new £75,000-a-week deal.

Walcott was incredulous at Arsenal's ultimatum, delivered last Friday, since he has never expressed any desire to leave the club despite strong interest this summer from Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, i understands. Walcott could easily have put pressure on Arsenal to sell, given that he has only one year left on his current contract.

It has always been his intention to sign a new deal, although not necessarily before the end of the current transfer window, and relations had previously been smooth between club and player until the last seven days.

The row broke when Walcott and his representative were told to report last Friday to see Dick Law, Wenger's de facto director of football, at the club's training ground. Law explained that the player either had to sign the contract on offer or face the prospect of being sold before tomorrow's transfer window deadline.

Walcott's was left out of the starting XI for the 0-0 draw against Stoke City on Sunday and was still mulling over Arsenal's aggressive new stance when news broke on Tuesday night of the club's position.

With one year left on his contract, and the prospect of being able to leave on a lucrative Bosman deal next summer, Walcott was in no mood to be pushed around by the club. There is an acceptance on his side that negotiations for a new contract might take some time – Arsenal had offered £75,000 a week, Walcott wanted £100,000 a week.

The process began with talks planned in January but both club and player agreed to postpone them until the end of the season while Walcott addressed a slump in his form during that period.

Euro 2012 came and went without an offer from the club; it was not until two weeks ago that both sides met for their first serious discussion. Although there was no agreement, relations were cordial at that stage. Walcott's camp were confident a new contract would be agreed before October.