Where does the future of Arsenal winger Theo Walcott lie?
Arsene Wenger today conceded that contract talks with Theo Walcott were a matter of “urgency” as the England international nears the end of his current deal.
The 23-year-old will be free to talk to other clubs in January and could leave on a Bosman free at the end of the season if no new deal can be thrashed out.
Wenger has said he wants the player, who joined from Southampton in 2006, to remain at the Emirates - and when asked if he would sell the winger in January said: "I would not like to". The Arsenal manager remains hopeful that Walcott, who scored a hat-trick in the Capital One Cup this week, will be able to agree terms.
The player himself has said he wants to remain at the club, but wants assurances about his future role. Generally deployed as a winger, the 30-time-capped international wants to be used as an out-and-out striker. He insists his failure to agree a new deal has nothing to do with money.
Should the impasse between player and club continue, Walcott could be headed for the Emirates exit - but where would he go? Here, we round up the main rumours which have been doing the rounds...
The most persistent rumour is that Walcott will join Liverpool. The Anfield club are desperate for reinforcements having failed to land their primary transfer targets in the summer. Walcott's desire to play as a striker could also be met with a dearth of options currently available to Brendan Rodgers, particularly while Fabio Borini is out injured.
Heavily linked in the summer when rumours circulated that Walcott would be pushed out the Emirates door due to his failure to sign a new deal. In the end the champions signed Scott Sinclair instead - that the former Swansea winger has disappeared from view since moving to the Etihad may serve as a warning to Walcott. With so many options in attack available to Roberto Mancini already, this would be a strange move for Walcott.
There were rumours during the summer that Southampton would make a bid to lure their former youth player back to the south coast. It seems unlikely that a player of Walcott's ability would give up on European football to play for the Premier League strugglers, but at least they could guarantee him regular football. Having only made three starts this season, with none in the league since the opening day of the season, that might seem tempting.
A move abroad is an option for Walcott, with the club most linked with the England forward being Juventus. Manager of the reigning Serie A champions, Antonio Conte, is reportedly an admirer of Walcott's pacey, direct style. A switch to Turin would see Walcott link up with Nicklas Bendtner, who is currently on loan with the Italian side from Arsenal.
Another option in Italy could be Inter Milan, who were also linked with a swoop for the winger in the summer. Reports suggested they were confident of beating off competition from English clubs because Arsenal view allowing Walcott to join a Premier League rival as unfavourable.
Media reports claim a move to Russia might be an option for Walcott, with Spartak Moscow's Spanish manager Unai Emery apparently keeping a close eye on developments. Reports from Spain suggested Emery had convinced the owners of the club to put together a lucrative package for the 23-year-old.
Super-rich Paris Saint-Germain could be a decent option for Walcott, a move which would see him link up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in attack. The French club have the resources to meet Walcott's high wage demands and the player would represent another scalp for the club as they look to become a force in Europe.
Probably the unlikeliest of all the options available to Walcott, but should the 23-year-old move to Tottenham on a Bosman many Spurs fans would see it as justice for Sol Campbell's famous free transfer in the opposite direction in 2001. It would certainly be a contentious move for the England international, but according to reports Andre Villas-Boas is a fan of the 23-year-old. The Portuguese manager reportedly showed signs of interest in signing him during his tenure at Chelsea.
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