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Why it’s time for Arsenal to sell Theo Walcott

“I’ve never seen him develop. He just doesn’t understand the game for me – where to be running, when to run inside a full back, when to just play a one-two. It’s all off the cuff. I just don’t think he’s got a football brain and he’s going to have problems. Let’s be honest, good defenders would catch him offside every time.”

Chris Waddle

The worst thing that ever happened to Theo Walcott’s career was his hat-trick in Zagreb in 2008. It tricked us all, and it taught us to expect more than what was ever really likely to be produced.

Do you know what Theo Walcott reminds me of? The kid at school who was quicker than everybody else, but wasn’t a particularly good footballer – he would knock the ball past you, but then stand on it when he had a chance to score. Walcott is a sprinter playing football.

The time has come for Arsene Wenger to recognise that this is not a promising youngster anymore, it’s a player that isn’t fulfilling his potential – and what’s more, it’s one that’s an obstacle in his team’s route back to success. The amount of times an Arsenal attack flounders at Walcott’s feet, or more precisely through his inability to make the right decision or provide the right pass is staggering. While Walcott may be personable and intelligent, his footballing IQ is double digit only and that will never change. You can’t teach the instinctive parts of the game – too often you can almost see him stop to think as he reaches the by-line or breaks free of his marker, by which time of course the chance that he’s creating is lost.

Whilst not in any way endorsing this kind of shameless, tabloid-style bandwagon jumping, there’s really not much argument for Walcott inclusion in the Arsenal team ahead of the 2011 version of himself, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Unfortunately for Arsene Wenger, the state of Theo Walcott’s career mirrors the condition his Arsenal team are now in; under-developed, lacking footballing nous, and not really showing any signs of maturing into anything more substantial. It’s as if the former Southampton player is the personification of the club’s ills.

It’s time for Arsenal and Walcott to part ways. As a player, you can’t play in a stadium where there’s an intake of breath every time you go to cross a ball, with 60,000 expecting you to put it in the stand. For Arsenal, having Walcott on the pitch is sometimes akin to the opposition having an additional defender. Not always, because he’s capable of fleeting moments of quality, but those are very rare – and that’s not the hallmark of a top-4 player.

The saving grace for Arsenal and Walcott will be that football always has another manager that thinks that they can do a better job with a player, that they can rehabilitate him; that will be true with Walcott. If the player was put up for sale tomorrow, there would be a queue half-a-dozen clubs deep him. Arsenal could command a sizeable fee, and the player could put behind him what has been a very underwhelming 5-years.

It’s just time, he’s not improving – he’s never really improved.

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