Arsenal ready to gamble £10m on Theo Walcott's future

Wenger rules out sale of forward in January even though he will be a free agent next summer

Arsenal are prepared to take a £10m hit by keeping Theo Walcott until the end of the season if he refuses to sign a new contract before January.

Speaking after the Gunners' 5-2 victory over Tottenham Hotspur in Saturday's typically eventful north London derby, their manager Arsène Wenger confirmed for the first time that the club will not attempt to cash in during the winter transfer window. A terse exchange with reporters went: "Will you sell him in January if there is no agreement?" "No." "So he will stay until the end of the season regardless?" "Yes."

Asked if there had been any progress on a more acceptable contract, Wenger replied good-humouredly: "If I listen to you, then every day it gets more expensive. We continue in a positive way. I told you many times we have until the end of December to sort this out."

If that does not happen, he insisted, the England international will remain for the rest of a season in which Arsenal need to make sure of a Champions League place, continue their progress in this season's competition – they could have qualified for the knockout stage by Wednesday night after playing at home to Montpellier – and pursue a first trophy for what will be eight years.

Walcott himself said of the ongoing negotiations: "I'm just continuing to play my football and I'm letting Arsenal and my agents deal with all that side of the thing. I enjoy playing at this club and hopefully something can get sorted out."

Jack Wilshere, Walcott's team-mate for both club and country, is keen for the issue to be resolved. "He is an English lad and great to have around the dressing room," the midfielder said. "But that is up to him, the boss and the board. They are going to do whatever they are going to do. I hope he signs.

"We all know what Theo brings to the team. He has pace and his movement and timing of runs is probably the best around."

Walcott's form since he was belatedly restored to a starting place in the team justifies the belief that Arsenal would be better off with him in the side than without him, even if Liverpool and others were prepared to offer an eight-figure sum. When only a substitute earlier in the season, he made a significant impact in games such as the win at West Ham, when he came on to score. Since then he has scored a hat-trick in the Capital One Cup victory at Reading, featured in both goals in the away draw at Schalke and laid on two for Olivier Giroud against Fulham.

Saturday's contribution included seeing off a bemused Tottenham left-back in Kyle Naughton, who was substituted at half-time, crossing for Per Mertesacker to head the equaliser, having a hand in Santi Cazorla's goal and claiming a richly deserved one of his own right at the end to remain Arsenal's leading scorer this season. The one irony is that by serving Giroud so well he may be undermining his chances of playing in the striker's role that he covets.

"I believe Theo is doing very well," Wenger said. "He can play both positions. You have as well situations, such as today, where the goalkeeper kicks the ball out and Giroud flicks the ball on or controls it on his chest – things Theo will not be capable to do. He is a different type of player but he can play up front, and he can play up front with Giroud as well. I think he has found a good mixture and good positional play on the wing. It makes him difficult to stop. I haven't changed my mind on him; I've always said I want to keep him. We haven't found an agreement yet but we will continue. He certainly doesn't play like someone who wants to go, and I don't behave like somebody who wants him to go."

* Montpellier held Valenciennes to a 1-1 draw on Saturday ahead of Wednesday's Group B trip to Arsenal, despite playing the final half hour with 10 men.

Gaëtan Charbonnier gave the defending champions the lead with a fine volley after 15 minutes, only for former Liverpool striker Anthony Le Tallec to set up Gregory Pujol to level five minutes before the break. Jamel Saihi was harshly sent off in the second half.

Will he or won't he? The Walcott saga

* Theo Walcott's future has been a continual topic of debate at Arsenal this season with the England international in the final year of his contract. Central to Walcott's concerns are his wish for a striking role, with Arsène Wenger preferring to use him on the wings.

* August

Walcott linked with moves to Manchester City and Liverpool as reports suggest he is unhappy with £75,000 contract offer from Arsenal.

* September

Wenger responds to calls for Walcott to be given a striking role: "I'm not against it, but we try and at the moment there is big competition up front, we have a different formula and the team is doing well. His time will come for that and at the moment we have to be a bit patient.

* October

Walcott scores a hat-trick in Arsenal's dramatic 7-5 Capital One Cup win at Reading, strengthening his claims for central striking role.

* November

"Hopefully, I told you many times, we can sort this situation out very soon. Very soon is before the end of December - one way or another, that is for sure," said Wenger.

* November

Reports suggest the club would offer Liverpool Walcott and £8m to try and tempt teenage sensation Raheem Sterling to move to the Emirates. Walcott then scores against Spurs, his ninth goal in 15 games. "I've always believed I'm a striker," he said afterwards. "I want to play up front. That's my position."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power