Walcott set for Arsenal despite huge Chelsea bid

A three-way race for Theo Walcott's signature was under way between a trio of the Premiership's biggest clubs last night after Southampton confirmed that they had received two firm offers for the 16-year-old prodigy - understood to be a £12m bid from Arsenal and a larger offer from Chelsea - and added that they were anticipating a third bid, believed to be from Tottenham, Manchester United or Liverpool.

Yet despite the frantic manoeuvrings, the race is already over. Walcott has made up his mind that he wants to move to Arsenal. Southampton will have to agree to that move or risk losing him to Highbury anyway for a few hundred thousand pounds.

The teenager has a pre-contract agreement with Southampton to sign professional terms at St Mary's on his 17th birthday in March. But if Southampton reject the bid from Arsenal - where Walcott feels he will receive the best education possible under Arsène Wenger and alongside Thierry Henry - Walcott could dig in his heels and go to a tribunal.

Inevitably, it would rule he was free to move to Highbury, and Southampton could end up with less than £1m, which means that Southampton's chairman, Rupert Lowe has to either sell Walcott to his chosen club, at their price, or lose his brightest young asset for a pittance. "We have received a couple of offers and the indications are another may follow," Lowe said. "These have not been accepted or rejected."

Chelsea have remained silent on bid speculation but are understood to be frustrated that no matter how much money they might offer, they apparently have no chance of signing Walcott.

There are several sticking points in Southampton accepting Arsenal's offer, not least a debate about how much money Arsenal will pay up front [about £5m] and how much will follow in performance-related payments (about £7m under the current offer). There is also an issue over whether Walcott remains at Southampton, on loan, for the rest of the season. Arsenal are not keen.

Lowe must ponder the risks in delaying an acceptance against the possible benefits of waiting for a bidding war to ratchet up the price. Unfortunately for him, Arsenal know the player wants to move to them, and that Walcott's sporting ambitions rather than Chelsea's ability to pay huge wages are more important to the player.

If and when an Arsenal bid is accepted, it is understood that Walcott's agent, Colin Gordon, might technically act for Arsenal in the deal. This is routine practice, and contravenes no regulations. Arsenal had a similar arrangement when they signed Jose Antonio Reyes in 2004, paying his agent on the understanding that the agent was not also paid anything at all by his client for the deal. This practice is beneficial for tax reasons, and is part of Arsenal's policy to ensure the long-term stability of players at the club. Arsenal would not confirm or deny any such arrangement last night. Gordon is seeking the move his client wants, regardless of how much either of them might earn from a move.

Southampton's manager, George Burley, said Walcott's best interests would be better served by staying put. "He is in the best place and doing tremendously well. He is playing regularly which is fantastic at his age." No doubt Walcott will think it more fantastic still when he is an Arsenal player, very soon.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Louis van Gaal would have been impressed with Darren Fletcher’s performance against LA Galaxy during Manchester United’s 7-0 victory
football
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Sport
Rhys Williams
commonwealth games
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
News
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
i100
Life and Style
fashionLatex dresses hit the catwalk to raise awareness for HIV and Aids
Travel
travel
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform