Saturday 7 December 2019

Ambitious Walcott aims to 'reignite career' at Everton

Everton's new signing Theo Walcott. Photo: PA
Everton's new signing Theo Walcott. Photo: PA

Chris Bascombe

Theo Walcott said he had chosen "the right time to leave Arsenal" after completing his £20 million move to Everton.

Walcott, 28, will be 32 by the time his new contract expires and, after more than 400 games and 12 years at Arsenal, is aiming to help Everton into the Champions League.

"I'm very ambitious and I've come here because I want the club to push to the next level," said Walcott. "With the players who have come in, I feel the next level can be reached. The club have won trophies, but I want them to win trophies now. The manager is very hungry and it's just what I need.

"I've had a couple of chats with him and, straight away, I felt that hunger and desire that he wanted from me. I need that and I wanted that."

Walcott, who could also have joined former club Southampton, scored 108 goals for Arsenal, despite a sense that he never fulfilled his potential after arriving for what was then a world-record fee for a 16-year-old. He has not started a Premier League game this season.

"It was sad but it's exciting at the same time and I want to reignite my career," Walcott said.

Sam Allardyce, the Everton manager, feels Walcott is a statement signature and another sign of Everton competing for coveted names. His is the second major deal in this window following the capture of Cenk Tosun from Besiktas.

"I'm thrilled we've been able to secure a player of Theo's experience and quality," said Allardyce.

"There was a bit of a chase between a couple of clubs, but I think, after we set out the ambitions of the club and my ambitions for him, he was motivated to come here and refreshed in his mind by the new challenge he can put upon himself.

"He wants to play every week and really take his career forward again. In the past, and certainly with last season, what we saw and what we've looked at with the amount of goals, assists and pace that he brings, it's a very good acquisition and a lot of shrewd negotiation by the club in terms of today's prices. He's got a lot of ambition to take off again with his career. He's in his prime."

Missing out on Walcott was a big disappointment for Southampton and, although they were reluctant to match Everton in terms of wages well in excess of £100,000 a week, they discovered the added difficulty now of attracting players in the context of their precarious position.

Walcott is adamant that his decision was not about money and Southampton have also missed out to Everton on Tosun. Southampton are now attempting to quickly conclude a deal for Monaco's Argentinian striker Guido Carrillo.

Mauricio Pellegrino, the manager, has been promised reinvestment after the £75 million sale of Virgil van Dijk and, with the team now only one point above the relegation zone and winless in the Premier League since November, a sense of urgency is developing.

Carrillo, 26, has featured infrequently this season for Monaco in France's Ligue 1 and Southampton hope to soon complete a deal that would cost around £15 million.

As well as Carrillo, Southampton want to add a creative wide player who can add pace to their team. Pellegrino's position is now under considerable scrutiny and, while the club hierarchy are sympathetic to the difficulties he faced while Van Dijk was in the dressing room but keen to leave, they are nevertheless disappointed by results.

At the start of the season, it was felt that the squad could realistically mirror Burnley and potentially offer a challenge to get into the top six.

© Daily Telegraph, London

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