Theo Walcott: I want to stay at Arsenal – as a striker
England man claims if contract stand-off was about money he would have already left club
Theo Walcott has insisted that football concerns, rather than financial ones, are at the heart of his contract stand-off with Arsenal. The 23-year-old winger was keen to differentiate himself from recent high-profile Arsenal departures; that unlike some he has always wanted to stay.
"I'm not the sort of person that goes after the money," Walcott said. "It is all about the football, I have always made decisions about the football."
Walcott's particular issue is that, after spending most of his six Arsenal seasons on the right wing, he wants to play as a striker. "I am not affected by money," Walcott said. "It is a case of having trust in me up front. I was signed as a striker and it is about time, I want to play up front. I have learnt my game on the wing. When you look at what I did last year I think I can do even more. Hopefully I will be given the opportunity. I am desperate for it."
Having started only one game so far this season, Walcott admitted his frustration and said that it could not have been down to football reasons given last season. "It is not on form because last year I played the amount of games I played and all the assists for Robin [van Persie] and the goals I scored," he said.
Walcott wants to play again and would appreciate the chance to do so up front in the Capital One Cup against Coventry City tomorrow night. "Hopefully I will get the chance to play up front because I know what I can do," he said, at the launch of the Football Association's and Mars' Just Play Free For One Week campaign. "It is the manager's decision and I will always respect that. I could play up front on Wednesday – that would be a nice gesture. I will play anywhere for the team but it's about time I played up front. I love scoring goals and I love playing."
While many players have left Arsenal to earn more money in recent years, Walcott said that was not his intention. "When I first joined Arsenal there were other opportunities there, which I turned down," he said. "This summer there were other opportunities to go, so if it was about money I would have gone.
"I still live out in the country and that is how I like to be – keep myself to myself. I like to do normal things, walking the dog, spending time with [his partner] Mel and the family."
"I have always wanted to stay. Hopefully something can be agreed, like I have always said. But it takes time, it is one of these things that is not going to happen overnight. Hopefully something can be agreed."
Although Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Van Persie have all pushed for and got moves away from Arsenal, Walcott does not want to be the next out of the door: "I never wanted to go and said I wanted to leave. I have always wanted to stay at Arsenal and like I said before something can get sorted out and I can get back playing."
"Hopefully something can be sorted out but if it doesn't I will be disappointed, I can't lie. It would be a shame, but you just have to move on and accept it. Hopefully it won't come to that, hopefully we can get something resolved because I love the club, I love playing for the manager, for the team. Like I keep saying, hopefully something can be sorted. It's not going to happen over-night, it's going to take time. My last contract took over six months. It's a gradual process."
Theo in numbers
12: Goals in Walcott's last 51 appearances for Arsenal
27: Premier League goals in six years since joining Arsenal
0: Walcott has never started as a central striker for the club
The FA and Mars are offering a week of free Just Play sessions from 8 October. Search online for Just Play
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