Rumours abound that Liverpool have lined up Arsenal forward Theo Walcott as a contingency in case Raheem Sterling refuses to sign a new contract at Anfield.
Manchester City have allegedly made the Jamaica-born flier their number one summer target as they look to revitalise their stagnating squad and are willing to pay as much as £50m for his services.
It’s an amount that would presumably tempt the Reds to sell if Sterling opted against penning a fresh deal and as far as replacements go, they’ve sounded out a very similar player in Walcott.
Both are diminutive, rapid-fast wide men with strong dribbling skills and, like his Liverpool counterpart, the Arsenal man also has contract issues to address.
If the Merseysiders do choose to pursue the 26-year-old this summer, the Gunners – 3/5 to beat Newcastle this weekend – must allow them to take him off their hands. Here’s why:
Arsene Wenger has enough options to manage without Walcott.
With the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all capable of playing on the right of a three-man attack, the Southampton academy graduate is anything but essential.
He has started just three times in the league so far this season, yet the north Londoners haven’t been any worse off with their campaign following all the usual traits of Champions League last-16 elimination and a fourth-place finish.
Walcott’s injury-proneness means he can never be depended upon.
Lengthy stints in the sick bay have prevented the England international completing ten games in any of the previous two seasons, while frequent, less serious ailments have punctuated spells of sustained good form.
His vast potential has never been realised.
Compared to fellow Saints academy alumnus Gareth Bale, Walcott’s career has been something of a disappointment.
Now in his prime, he has celebrated just one Premier League season with a double-digit goal haul and finds himself very much a peripheral figure at the Emirates.
Struggling for form and undoubtedly preparing a list of demands Arsenal must meet before he pens a contract extension, the Gunners would be foolish to refuse a sizeable sum from one of their arch rivals for the transfer of Walcott.