By Matt Farr
Arsenal hitman Theo Walcott is one of three attacking players being lined up by Everton this summer, according to a report.
The Times claim that the Merseyside club are weighing up potential replacements for contract rebel Ross Barkley, and that Walcott is one of several potential candidates.
Everton are also said to be keen on Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Swansea playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Barkley has just one year remaining on his current deal at Goodison Park, but has yet to commit his long-term future to the club, with Ronald Koeman losing patience.
However, the Toffees have already put a contingency plan in place should Barkley refuse to commit his future to the club, and are set to demand a fee of £50million for his services.
England international team-mate Walcott, meanwhile, has been named as one of three players on Koeman’s wishlist this summer, with the forward having scored an impressive 19 goals for Arsenal this term.
Walcott, 28, has struggled to fulfil his sky-high potential at the Emirates, and could be offloaded this summer as Arsenal seek more reliable resources.
His current deal runs until the summer of 2019, but Everton may consider a move to see him cut his time in north London short.
Koeman has issued Barkley with an ultimatum this summer, demanding the 23-year-old put pen-to-paper on fresh terms or else he will be sold this summer.
The Dutchman’s hardball approach highlights his intentions to retain the nucleus of his Everton side, with Barkley having become a key player at the club.
Football Insider verdict
If Barkley was 100 per cent set on a future at Everton, he would have signed a new contract months ago. However, with negotiations continuing to stall, it looks likely that he will seek a fresh challenge this summer. But the latest stumbling block in his potential departure will be Everton’s £50million asking-price, which is an incredible steep figure for a player entering the final year of his contract. Meanwhile, a move for Walcott could also be a concern, as the England forward has fallen short of his potential. He could still be an important player, and a better wide option than many of their current crop, but there are better options out there should Everton pursue an alternative to Barkley – like Sigurdsson.
In other Everton transfer news, the Toffees have been installed as favourites to sign this 24-year-old in the latest bookmakers’ odds.