Arsenal’s interest in Jamie Vardy suggests the Emirates end is nigh for Theo Walcott, after an especially underwhelming campaign from the 27-year-old saw him overlooked for inclusion in England’s squad for Euro 2016.
Walcott made 28 Premier League appearances last term (though just 15 were starts), scoring a paltry five goals and assisting a further two. This substandard contribution from a senior marksman proved a prominent factor in the Gunners’ failure to win the title.
By contrast, Vardy hammered home 24 goals and set up a further six as he spearheaded Leicester City’s impossible-to-envisage domestic conquest.
Lightweight running machines with an eye for goal, north London might not be big enough for both England internationals and media speculators have wasted no time in putting forward parties interested in the current Arsenal ace.
These are rumours Walcott has been quick to quash, with reports suggesting he intends to stay put for at least another season.
Assuming there’s some substance to these stories, 2016/17 could well be the former Southampton prodigy’s best year yet…but only if Arsenal add to their attacking options.
Measure the previous campaign against 2012/13 – the high watermark of Walcott’s career to date – and the correlation between in-house competition and performances immediately stands out.
Over the season in question, he found the net 21 times in 43 appearances, with two thirds of his these coming in the league.
It’s a haul five top-tier strikes better than his next best effort and it came when he was battling with Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski, Gervinho, Andrei Arshavin and Marouane Chamakh for a place in the front three.
While the quality of his counterparts may be questionable, the quantity certainly isn’t and, after all, all five were seasoned internationals.
The same density was lacking in 2015/16.
With Danny Welbeck sidelined for the bulk of the season, only Giroud and Alexis Sanchez provided competition to Walcott among the senior players, with inexperienced duo Joel Campbell and Alex Iwobi entering the first-team fray under emergency circumstances.
Perhaps resting on laurels was responsible for Walcott’s woeful goal return last time around. If so, he needs Vardy to sign just as much as Arsenal do.