By Editor

Theo Walcott was given assurances by Arsene Wenger about his playing role before agreeing to sign a new Arsenal contract, Football Insider sources understand.

The England star has been told by the Gunners manager that he will be given the chance to stake his claim as a striker next season.

Although Wenger stopped short of handing Walcott any guarantees, the 26-year-old will be in the shake-up to lead the front line with orthodox spearheads Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck.

Walcott sought assurances during contract talks before committing his future to the club he joined as a 16-year-old. As revealed by Football Insider on Tuesday, Walcott has agreed a four-year Arsenal contract running until 2019 following recent negotiations.

The 26-year-old will end speculation about his future by signing a new deal that will tie him to the Gunners until he is 30. This is to replace his current £100,000-a-week deal, which is due to expire in a year.

One of the key points of discussion during talks which began earlier this year was Walcott’s wish to play more frequently in his favourite centre-forward role.

The England international was selected as Arsenal’s spearhead for their final two matches of last season, scoring four goals, but had been wary that he was briefly used as a striker before signing his last contract in January 2013 only to then revert back exclusively to a winger role.

However, Wenger has told Walcott that he regards him as someone who can flourish in a central position and he will be given the chance to continue where he left off in late May, when he scored a brilliant goal in Arsenal’s FA Cup final win over Aston Villa after being preferred up front to Giroud.

Walcott’s future has been in doubt after he was relegated to the fringes of the team following his return from a knee injury in November 2014 that had kept him sidelined for nearly a year.

His decision to stay at Emirates Stadium is a huge boost to Wenger as he prepares the team for what he hopes will be a genuine title challenge next season.

The Arsenal manager has been consistent in saying that he wants to keep the 26-year-old and that he believes the best is still to come from him.

It comes after the London club announced on Monday that Petr Cech had completed an £11million transfer from rivals Chelsea.