Arsenal have enjoyed a busy summer so far, bringing in Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette, but their changes have led to uncertain futures for many players already within the squad.
The Gunners current longest-serving player Theo Walcott is one of many who has seen his future thrown into speculation this summer, especially with reports indicating that Arsenal are looking to strengthen their wide options this summer as they pursue Monaco’s Thomas Lemar and Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez.
With Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck to compete with, as well as the next generation of youngsters ready to step-up, 28-year-old Walcott faces a battle to find his place within the squad.
Having jetted out to Sydney with the rest of Arsenal’s 25-man squad for a pre-season tour in Australia and China, Walcott has the chance to make an impression ahead of the new season and could secure a spot for himself.
Is it the right move?
Walcott’s 11 years have been surrounded with a general consensus of ‘what might have been’, especially after he remarkably made England’s World Cup squad in 2006 at the age of just 16-years-old; an opportunity he later admitted came too early in his career.
Amidst a wealth of injury problems, Walcott has struggled to find stability at Arsenal but he has made his impression within the squad, although it’s been difficult for him to find the opportunities to consistently star for the Gunners- as he eyes a role as a central striker which hasn’t been regularly forthcoming, whilst not quite putting in the same performances on the wing though.
Next season could well be Walcott’s chance to shine though as a switch to a three-man defence late last term may hand the England international a new lease of life, especially if the Gunners fail to hold onto Alexis Sanchez.
Whilst the signing of Lacazette means central-striking opportunities won’t be forthcoming, he could fill Alexis’ position in the side by moving centrally to play behind Arsenal’s new record-signing and would thrive playing alongside Mesut Ozil.
Will he be a star?
That’s up for debate, as Walcott needs to find his position in the side. If a central opportunity becomes available, then the England ace may finally fulfil his potential. On the flip-side though, he may find himself an outcast unless he somehow converts to a wing-back; which seems increasingly unlikely.
Walcott is certainly more efficient through the middle and he may get his chances this season as Arsenal could rotate heavily due to their involvement in the Europa League, which is significant for Walcott as he could show he’s capable of filling the void left by Ozil or Alexis if either player leaves in the next 12 months.
Competition is rife though as Oxlade-Chamberlain is also eyeing a central position, whereas Aaron Ramsey may feel he can step forward into a more attacking role if the Gunners find the right replacement for him alongside Granit Xhaka.