ArsEne Wenger has added to the pressure on Theo Walcott to commit his future to Arsenal by suggesting that the club's young players should show loyalty for the opportunities they were given as emerging teenagers.
Although Wenger described Walcott (right) as "an Arsenal man" and said he was convinced that he would stay, there was also a clear sense that he expected the 23-year-old to repay some of the faith shown to him.
"I am happy to pay Theo the money he deserves but I feel as well that I bought him at 16 years of age and spent a lot of money on him," said Wenger. "If you put them in at 17 or 18, you have to stand up for them. You know you risk losing games while they are learning their job.
"Somewhere along the line they need to give back to the club what the club has given to them."
Wenger also stressed that there were differences in Walcott's situation compared to those in recent seasons of Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie.
"When Fabregas says to me, 'I want to go back to Barcelona,' it is difficult for me to say, 'No, why should you?" he said. "He is from Barcelona. When a guy gets to 30, you can understand it is his last contract and if he feels he wants a change. This is a more sensitive age, but basically, it is a reward for our policy.
"I am a big supporter of Theo and I believe he is happy here. It would be a big loss for Arsenal. My gut feeling is that he belongs to this club. You would like them to stay because they love where they are and they are committed to the club." (© Daily Telegraph, London)