After spending the early part of this season in Arsene Wenger‘s doghouse, Theo Walcott signed a contract extension with Arsenal that will put him among the financially elite in the Premier League.
Walcott inked a 3 1/2-year contract Friday afternoon that would total £18.2 million ($29.1 million). He would earn £100,000 a week ($160,000) and receive a £3 million ($4.8 million) signing bonus. Wenger said he was happy Walcott will remain with Arsenal.
“Theo is a strong player and also a great person,” said Wenger. “The combination of his ability and pace always makes him such a valuable asset, either from the flanks or down the middle.”
Walcott reportedly rejected an offer of £75,000 a week ($120,000) during August. That decision led to a cooling of relations with Wenger, and saw Walcott primarily coming off the bench until November. Discussions between the two in December, according to the reports, further eased the tensions.
“I have made it clear from the start that I wanted to stay at Arsenal, so I am pleased we have agreed to a deal that everyone is happy with,” said Walcott.
Walcott, a striker, has been with Arsenal since he was signed from Southampton as a 16-year-old in 2006. He made headlines later that year when he made his full-international debut and was placed on England’s World Cup squad. Walcott did not play in the tournament, but the word began spreading that he was a player to watch in the future. He has since played in 30 international matches for England.
Production also is becoming synonymous with Walcott. He has posted 14 goals in all competitions this season for Arsenal, three of them in the Gunners’ wacky 7-5 extra-time win over Reading in the League Cup in October and three more in a 7-3 rout of Newcastle in late December. This follows an overall tally of 11 goals and 12 assists last season.
Securing Walcott’s place on the Arsenal roster should ease the fears of the Gunners’ fans. They have had to watch for years as big-name players, such as Robin Van Persie, Samir Nasri, Cesc Fabregas, Thierry Henry and others have left after transfers or expired contracts.