Walcott on verge of agreeing new four-year Arsenal deal

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The Independent Online

Theo Walcott's new four-year deal with Arsenal could be announced as early as today with the club confident that the 20-year-old will pledge his future to Arsène Wenger's side within the next few days.

Negotiations are almost at a close between the player's advisors and new Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis which will be a welcome boost for Wenger after his team's desperate defeat in the Champions League semi-final second leg against Manchester United on Tuesday. It is the second professional deal that Walcott has signed since joining the club as a 16-year-old in January 2006.

Walcott is expected to move to a more central striking role in the team within the next year. He has undergone surgery on both shoulders this season but he is now firmly established as Wenger's first-choice right winger. The club also hope that Robin van Persie's new deal can be agreed before the end of the season.

That has been a trickier proposition with the Dutch striker waiting to be sure that Arsenal qualified for the Champions League next season before agreeing his future. With that now in place the club are confident that he too will sign. Wenger has spoken of his confidence that he can keep his best young players together, including Cesc Fabregas, because of his belief that in a young player's development it is "90 per cent" the club they are at that shapes them.

Gaël Clichy will not play again this season after failing to react to treatment on a back injury.

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