As you know, the Theo Walcott transfer saga finally concluded on Friday. Unusually, the fee is made public on the official site at an initial £5 which could rise to £12m. Interestingly, this is exactly what the press were saying earlier last week.|
He joins as a scholar, but will sign his first professional contract as soon as he is allowed: his 17th birthday on 16th March of this year.
He's an England youth international who is touted as being an Henry-alike. A classic Wenger type of player who while being primarily a striker is also happy playing as an attacking midfielder.
He's scored 5 times for Southampton this season in 13 Championship appearances, and has progressed through the England squads - appearing in the U17 team which is a year above his normal age group and scoring 5 in 9 games. He became Southampton's youngest ever player when he turned out for their first league match of this season at the age of 15 years and 175 days. We have Harry Redknapp to thank, for having the belief in Walcott to bring his talent and maturity to our attention!
Arsene Wenger has spoken of his delight as signing such a talent...
"Theo Walcott is a very young player, but has already shown in his performances for Southampton that he is a talented player with huge potential. I also like the fact that he is a versatile player who is incredibly dedicated, shows great determination to succeed and is blessed with electric pace. We are delighted Theo has signed for the Club and will make a fantastic addition to our squad."
But Jermaine Pennant has issued a warning to the player, saying "When I was there, my FA Youth Cup team won the competition two years in a row and there is nobody to show for it playing now at Arsenal.... Only Ashley Cole has come through from the youth ranks so I don't know if the youngsters do get a chance but we will see what happens with Walcott."
There's been much comparison of the 2 players, because of the age at which Arsenal snapped them up. But, by all accounts, there is little similarity. Pennant's career has ended up elsewhere largely as a result of his own immaturity. Arsenal have to accept some of the blame, for their part in bringing him into the spotlight too early, but by all accounts the character of Walcott and the environment from which he has come are such that he should be able to cope. He's said to be very mature for his age. It's also worth pointing out that club insiders have said that there were aspects of the Pennant deal which meant that such a move wouldn't happen now: he was something of a pawn and money became too much of an issue. Arsenal have learned from that mistake. The fact that he has moved to us, on advice and on his own desire, despite much more money being available elsewhere, has to be a positive sign in this regard. Again, we have to applaud Southampton for their attitude.
Here's hoping that Walcott is more like Cole than Pennant in his application and dedication. And rather than compare him with the other promising members of that Arsenal youth team who like Pennant have moved on (Sidwell, Noble, Bothroyd, etc), we think a more appropriate comparison is Cesc Fabregas- a youngster who was brought here because he's already of a standard.