A Goal.com report suggests that discussions over a new contract for 23-year-old Arsenal winger Theo Walcott have stalled because manager Arsene Wenger has concerns over the England international’s physical fitness. Walcott is understood to have a medical condition that affects his shoulders.
The Southampton academy graduate will be a free agent next summer and talks over a new deal have been ongoing for some time, with varied reports of progress. It is believed Walcott, in addition to a pay hike, was also seeking assurances he would be played as a central striker. Wenger has admitted he did see the Englishman in that role but insists he will have to be patient and be guided into the position. However, the medical condition and tactical demands aside, Wenger has expressed hope that club and player will reach an agreement.
“We all want him to stay. I always said exactly the same. I always said let's hope that we can sign up and extend [his contract]. I speak to Theo of course. To his agents? We are always in touch with them and you have to give us some time to sort that out,” the Frenchman said, after the 6-1 win over Coventry City, in which Walcott scored twice.
Covering for Alex Song
Wenger has also spoken about the club's recent successful run, saying that the good results were a function of better team play rather than individual brilliance. The 63-year-old veteran manager came in for a lot of criticism after failing to replace Alex Song, the Cameroon defensive midfielder who was sold to Barcelona. However, in recent games, the combination of Mikel Arteta and the fit-again Abou Diaby have worked very well together, complementing and supporting each other's attacking and defensive duties. Further upfield, the roving presence of new signings Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski, both of whom drop deep to help support midfield play, means the midfield of four or five players becomes a fluid platform, moving up and down the field, as required, to support either the back line or the striker up front.
"There are no defensive midfield players at the moment. We try to find the defensive balance collectively. We have fewer players who are purely defenders but some are physically strong in defending like Diaby, some are tactically strong like Arteta. At the moment we have the balance because everybody participates, but we have fewer specialists, purely defenders. We are more versatile going forward because everyone has the potential to go forward," Wenger said, ahead of the game against Chelsea.
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