Thursday 18 January 2018

Wenger ready to play hard ball with Walcott and Jenkinson

Matt Law

Arsene Wenger is ready to play hard ball over the futures of Theo Walcott and Carl Jenkinson. The Arsenal manager has dropped a big hint that he will not sell Walcott this summer, even if the winger does not sign a new contract.

Wenger has also warned that Jenkinson, a West Ham target, may only be loaned out again if no club meet his £10 million valuation.

Arsenal have held early discussions with Walcott over a new contract, with his present deal due to expire in the summer of 2016. Walcott's position within Wenger's squad is the biggest hurdle to negotiate rather than the forward's wages.

Walcott has been confined to the bench since returning from injury and will want encouragement that he can again be a regular first-team starter before committing his long-term future to Arsenal.

Liverpool are interested in signing Walcott, but Wenger has suggested the Anfield club may have to wait until the January 2016 transfer window.

Asked whether he will be under pressure to sell Walcott this summer if no new contract is agreed, Wenger said: "We are always in the mode where we want to be successful. In case of failure, we'll see but in case of failure - that will only be in December. Today I'm not in that kind of mode of thinking because I just think I want him to stay. When you go into negotiations with a player it is with a desire for him to stay. He looks keen to do it and I am keen to do it, so let's see what comes out. We are already talking to him, but there are no updates yet."

Jenkinson has impressed during a season-long loan at West Ham and Wenger this week spoke to the right-back about his future. West Ham are keen to make Jenkinson's move permanent this summer, but Arsenal's £10m valuation could mean they turn to Glen Johnson, who started his career at Upton Park.

Arsenal's reluctance to let Jenkinson go too easily may be affected by the fact that Barcelona could exercise a buy-back option on Hector Bellerin in the future.

Wenger, who will sit down with Jenkinson at the end of the season, said: " The decision I have to make is do I bring him back now or does he need one more year now to play in the Premier League? It is not decided yet." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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