EXCLUSIVE | By Editor
Theo Walcott has signed a new four-year Arsenal contract, Football Insider sources understand.
The England star, 26, has ended speculation about his future by committing to a fresh deal that ties him to the Gunners until he is 30.
Football Insider has learned that Walcott has put pen to paper on an Arsenal contract running until 2019 and that an announcement will be made by the club imminently.
This is to replace his current £100,000-a-week deal, which is due to expire in a year.
Football Insider revealed last Tuesday that Walcott had agreed fresh terms with the club following recent negotiations.
It will also extend the service of the club’s longest-serving player to well beyond a decade. Walcott joined Arsenal as a 16-year-old from Southampton in January 2006.
It is a huge boost to Arsene Wenger as the team return to pre-season training and begin preparations 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 a week ago that Petr Cech had completed an £11million transfer from rivals Chelsea.
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.
But he was given the nod by Wenger to play in his favourite centre-forward role in the final two matches of last season, responding with four goals, including a brilliant strike in the FA Cup final after being preferred up front to Olivier Giroud.
This has given Walcott encouragement that he will have a central role to play next season and that he still figures as a major player in Wenger’s plans.
As revealed by Football Insider, Walcott and his young family are settled living in Hertfordshire and his first choice had always been to remain at Arsenal.
Amid interest from Liverpool and Chelsea, Wenger was keen to thrash out the player’s future this summer in order to know whether he needed to dip into the transfer market to replace him.
Arsenal wanted to avoid the situation of January 2013, when Walcott had entered the final six months of his contract before signing an extended deal.
Football Insider revealed in May that Arsenal gave the England international three options when talks began earlier this year; accept a four-year deal, take up the 12-month extension option in his current deal or leave this summer.
Walcott has chosen the first of those options, giving Arsenal a major boost as the first tranche of players return to pre-season training this week.
The forward had been non-committal about his future when questioned during the Gunners’ FA Cup victory parade just hours after his central role in the club’s 4-0 triumph over Aston Villa.
“I am sure things will get resolved. I just want to enjoy today,” he said. “I have got England coming up and then we can think about that process, but it will take time, I am sure.”