Chelsea prepared to offer Arsenal £15m for Theo Walcott

Blues want replacement for Daniel Sturridge, who is expected to move to Liverpool

Chelsea have stepped up their interest in Arsenal contract rebel Theo Walcott, who they see as the perfect replacement for Daniel Sturridge.

It was revealed last week that Sturridge’s £15million transfer to Liverpool has moved closer after the 23-year-old made it clear he wants to go to Anfield.

Liverpool want to complete the switch as early as possible next month but Chelsea are unwilling to let him leave until they secure another forward.

While Atletico Madrid star Radamel Falcao is their main target during the January window, Chelsea still want another front man because of Sturridge’s expected departure.

Walcott has yet to agree terms on a new deal at Arsenal, despite his contract expiring at the end of the season.

Manager Arsene Wenger insists he is prepared to let Walcott leave on a free transfer in the summer, rather than cash in on him mid-season, but Chelsea are prepared to offer £15m in a bid to change his mind reveal The Evening Standard.

Although the 23-year-old is also wanted by Liverpool and Manchester United, he may prefer a switch to Stamford Bridge as it means he will get to stay in London.

Crucially, none of the clubs can promise him a regular berth in the lead striker role he craves, which has been part of the reason why he has become unsettled at Arsenal.

Chelsea are still backing Fernando Torres, who has scored five goals in his last three matches, but are willing to pay Falcao’s £48m release clause.

Real Madrid are confident they can sign him, too, but Atletico are unwilling to sell to their rivals and while they do not want to lose their prize asset, the Spanish club would prefer to negotiate with Chelsea.

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