Walcott deal in the works
Published 09/01/2013 | 16:40
Arsenal are ready to stretch their rigid pay structure to push through a new deal for Theo Walcott, which could be signed ahead of this weekend's Barclays Premier League clash with Manchester City.
Press Association Sport understands the Gunners are ready to make Walcott among the highest-paid players at the club with a five-year contract worth around £90,000-a-week, which would be boosted by lucrative add-ons.
Manager Arsene Wenger spoke in length about the "socialist" pay structure within the Arsenal dressing room ahead of the FA Cup tie at Swansea, revealing there was a general consensus to keep pay disparity to a minimum, unlike many of their top-flight rivals.
Wenger, though, has stressed the need to keep Walcott on board at Emirates Stadium, with the player having already rejected one contract offer earlier in the season, but now both parties would appear close to reaching an agreement.
Walcott had also expressed a desire to be deployed more in his preferred central striker role, in which he has revelled in during recent weeks, crashing in a hat-trick in the 7-3 victory over Newcastle.
While Wenger indicated signing up the 23-year-old England forward was his main priority during the January transfer window, Arsenal are still expected to bring in more additions as they look to break back into the top four of the Premier League and tackle Bayern Munich for a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Drafting in another striker would appear high on the agenda, given Gervinho is away at the African Nations Cup and Marouane Chamakh was allowed to join West Ham on a six-month loan.
Barcelona's David Villa and Adrian Lopez of Atletico Madrid are both reported targets, along with Sevilla's Alvaro Negredo and Mainz frontman Adam Szalai.
Elsewhere, Wigan's £9million-rated midfielder James McCarthy is another said to be on Wenger's radar, as is Rennes misfit Yann M'Vila. The Italian press also have linked Roma goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg with a move to Emirates Stadium.
But Gunners' number one Wojciech Szczesny sees himself Arsenal's long-term option and he told Arsenal Player: "Ever since I signed for this club, I have become an Arsenal fan. It feels like it is more than me just playing and doing my best on a Saturday afternoon. I feel like I have a much bigger part to play at this club. It means that little bit more to me."