16 July 2017

Time to sell Theo. Sorry. Just facin' facts...

With Alexandre Lacazette in, it's time to ask who's out, and the answer comes almost as fast as the player once ran: Theo Walcott. It may sound harsh and unsentimental, but the Theo Walcott Experiment has fizzled. Amid rumours of Everton offering £30m for the soon-to-be 29 year old, we should sell before whatever it is they're smoking over there wears off. In this market, the one in which Kyle Walker was sold at £50m and Romelu Lukaku at £75m, £30m might seem like a pittance. Theo did, after all, score 10 Prem goals (19 total) despite limited minutes. However, it's increasingly clear that we'll ever get a better offer, so it's time to move him on. Let's make it a classic "it's not you; it's me", at least to start.

What's that writing on the wall say?
The arrival of Lacazette, of course, makes the front line that much more crowded, and Theo is will want more playing time than we can offer. In last season's run-in, Theo had to settle for dwindling minutes as he fought through injuries. Either Theo accepts a much smaller role or he accepts a larger role at a smaller club. Enter Everton.

With that, we end the "it's not you; it's me" phase.

Theo has never seriously been pursued by any of the larger clubs. This suggests that they don't want him and that we're not likely to get an outrageous fee for him. Even in his most-productive periods, we might have gotten £25m for him. I'd submit humbly that he is not only past his most-productive period; he's also not a good fit for Arsenal—not now, if ever. Let's face it: he's little more than a speed-merchant. He's not a clinical finisher, he can't dribble defenders, and he doesn't contribute much other than running in behind defenses playing a high line. I'm not sure you'd need more than a few fingers to count how many opponents play a high line against us. In other words, his one asset—that speed—rarely if ever comes into play.

Even if it does come into play more often, we have to consider his fitness and age. He'll turn 29 in March, hardly ancient, but certainly an issue. Few people get faster as they get older. He has fought back from his knee blow-out, but other niggles popped up, each one eating away at that one asset of his. Still, that one asset would make him useful to a club more accustomed to parking the bus and trying to hit on counters. Almost by definition, this would have to be a smaller club, and Everton fits the bill. They finished 14 points below us in our worst season in a generation, and they have £75m to spend. If they want to put 40% of that in our basket, who are we to turn up our noses?

Even club-legend Ian Wright agrees, if only ruefully. Wrighty tweeted that it's "sad to see the amount of disrespect that Theo gets from the fans. I'll always love him, but if it is a 30 million bid, got to take it 😢".  Compared to some of those other transfer-fees, we might feel a need for greed. If we could get Bayern or PSG or Real Madrid to bid, well, then, we could turn an even tidier profit on him. That's not happening, at least as far as any of the clickbait out there would suggest.

I genuinely like Theo. He is, by all accounts, a good person. However, if life has taught us anything, loyalty and sentiment don't win trophies. I'm not being ruthless, am I? I'm aiming for practical. Maybe I should return to the "it's not you; it's me" routine if only to soften the tone as we wrap up? Theo deserves to play more than he does. Arsenal can't offer him that. Theo deserves a club that will be thrilled to have him. Arsenal, again, can't offer that. We can offer another few seasons of passive-aggressive, noncommittal support, or we can let him find someone who can truly appreciate him for who he is.

Theo? You're welcome.