Theo Walcott, the odd man out. 4

For Theo Walcott the future looked so bright, he was hailed as the future of English football, the star of the future. As a teenager he was in high demand as his potential was described as being frightening. At an early age he showed his prodigious talent, possessing lightening pace, the ability to take on defenders, while most of all, he had a good goalscoring touch.

Theo Walcott odd man out

Theo Walcott odd man out

Walcott exploded onto the scene in January 2006 when he was signed by Arsenal as a 16 year old from Southampton, for a fee of £5 million after a major bidding war between Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs all interested in signing the youngster.

He made further headlines and controversy less than 6 months later when as a 17 year old he was a shock inclusion in Sven-Göran Eriksson’s England World Cup squad for the 2006 World Cup.

For the next few years Walcott continued his growth and learned his trade, popping up on regular intervals scoring big goals in big matches. He also found himself a fixture in the English national team set-up, while becoming the youngest England player to score a hat trick.

Walcott developed his game under Arsene Wenger to the point where, after 2 years at the club the Arsenal Manager, proclaimed that Walcott was finally able to make his shift from a boy, to a man, and shall soon be a monster

However, in recent times, things haven’t quite panned out for Walcott, where he has been accused of not fulfilling his great potential. In truth, in his time at Arsenal, he has never really hammered down a starting spot and become a permanent fixture as you would expect, even as he has matured. Instead, he has the appearance of being only a bit part player, coming off the bench or starting irregularly.

What has probably hampered his development has been his injuries. His career to date has been marred by them and most shockingly, he has been accused of not working hard enough to really develop his game.

Former teammate Thierry Henry, remarked that he thought Walcott “needed to put in extra practice time to reach his full potential”. While also being accused by the pundits of not having a football brain and not understanding the game well enough, and instead playing the game barely on instinct and off the cuff.

But the biggest surprise to Walcott career so far was when he left out of England’s 2010 World Cup squad by Fabio Capello. An admission that sent shock waves around the world, where even Lionel Messi, chimed in saying that, he was shocked by Walcott’s exclusion, as he believed that Walcott could have made the difference for England against Germany and Algeria. In January 2011, Capello admitted that in retrospect, “that he had made a mistake in not selecting Walcott for the 2010 World Cup.” Walcott recovered from the setback of not making the World Cup and for the past two years has continued to have relatively successful seasons with Arsenal.

However, he nor his manager are totally happy with the current status for different reasons. Wenger, continues to use Walcott in a back up role, as either a substitute coming off the bench or getting intermittent starts in primarily in the Champions league. For whatever reason, Wenger fails to use him as consistent starter.

Walcott for his part is bemused as to why he is not holding down a regular starting position, and has made remarks concerning his contract and playing a more central striking roll, rather than his current role out wide on the right. With his contract running out at the end of the season, both Arsenal and Walcott have major decisions to make.

Although, Walcott has not hit the heights that his talent should produce, the going contract rate for a player of the his caliber may be well beyond what Arsenal may want to pay. With Arsenal having a history of being frugal Theo Walcott and Arsenal stand at a cross roads.

With that in mind, there is already talk that Arsenal could be looking to sell Walcott in the January transfer window, rather than risk losing him on a free transfer. Whatever the decision, there will be plenty of teams interested in a player of Walcott’s talents.

Only time will tell.