Theo Walcott was not given ultimatum says Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger

 

Arsene Wenger denies Arsenal adopted a hard-line stance during contract negotiations with Theo Walcott.

It was initially reported that the Gunners told Walcott to sign the new £75,000 per week deal on the table or leave before tomorrow's transfer deadline.

Now, however, Arsenal will run the risk of the 23-year-old leaving on a free next summer by hoping to reach an agreement over the coming months.

"There was never a hard-line approach with Theo, it was always a soft-line approach, but with respect to our wage structure," said Wenger.

"If we don't respect our wage structure, we will go nowhere. We always wanted him to stay, and we still want it now."

Walcott is thought to be holding out for wages of £100,000 per week, with the impasse alerting the attention of Liverpool and Manchester City.

But now it is all but certain that he will remain at Emirates Stadium - at least until January.

Wenger insists the England winger has remained professional throughout the negotiations.

"Theo is focused in training and what happens at the end of the season, happens as the end of the season," he said.

"He's been fantastic, showing 100% commitment. He loves the club, so maybe we can find an agreement.

"I'm confident Theo will sign. He's 23, is English, lives 10 minutes from here, so hopefully we can reach an agreement.

"But at the moment it's difficult to predict what we will do.

"I don't know what will happen in January, I'm worried more about Sunday's game with Liverpool.

"Theo's developing very well. He's intelligent and is a good finisher.

"Yes it would be a frustration if he left, but we're not there yet."

PA

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