Writer: Tim Stillman
Date:Friday December 21 2012
Arsene Wenger has suggested that Theo Walcott ought to repay the faith Arsenal have shown in him in the last seven years by signing a new contract with the club. Walcott's deal runs out this summer and the looming spectre of a Bosman grows more likely by the day.
Walcott's advisers had earlier suggested that Walcott's principle desire was to play upfront, but Arsenal have now given him opportunities at centre forward and still negotiations show no sign of being concluded.
Wenger was keen to remind Walcott of the faith Arsenal have shown in him during an inconsistent youth, 'What is important to keep the young players together is that at some stage I have stood up for them; I played you at 17, 18, 19 years of age and I know I took a gamble,' Wenger said.
'It is easier to take a player of 25 and put him in the team. You know what you are getting.
'If you put them in at 17 or 18, you have to stand up for them. You risk losing games while they are learning their job. Once you have produced them you want to say, 'Okay, let's stay together and win together.'
'Somewhere along the line they need to give back to the club what the club has given to them.
'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.'
He added: '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.
'I am a big supporter and I believe he is happy here. Theo has always looked to me like he is an Arsenal man.'
On Monday night at Reading, the Arsenal fans began to sing, 'Arsene, sign him up' before a cardre of fans countered the chant with, 'Theo, sign the deal.' A much more apposite chant in my opinion.
Date:Friday December 21 2012
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