Theo Walcott’s slow Arsenal demise puts current youth revolution into perspective

ON THIS DAY IN 2006: Sixteen years in the past Arsenal parted methods with £5m in a deal that might finally rise to £12m to convey a teenage Theo Walcott to north London after impressing for SouthamptonVideo LoadingVideo UnavailableThe video will auto-play soon8CancelPlay nowTheo Walcott thanks Arsenal followers for his or her help after Everton transfer Much like his former boss Arsene Wenger, Mikel Arteta is greater than prepared to put his belief within the palms of younger expertise. The likes of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli are at the moment the primary names on the team-sheet having been thrown within the deep finish and compelled to hold the membership on their comparatively junior shoulders at occasions. But earlier than that trio turned fan-favourites in their very own rights, Wenger sparked large headlines with the acquisition of a 16-year-old Theo Walcott in what many noticed as one of many first constructing blocks within the Arsenal supervisor’s first try at a youth revolution. The previous guard of Thierry Henry,Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Vieira had all both gone or had been quickly to be departed and Wenger considered this as the right time to put his belief in youth. HAVE YOUR SAY! Did Walcott obtain his potential? Comment bel ow

16 year-old Theo Walcott poses with Arsene Wenger at his Arsenal unveiling

Arsenal’s switch dealings within the 2005/06 season noticed Wenger recruit a 16-year-old Walcott, a 16-year-old Nicklas Bendtner, a 16-year-old Armand Traore and an 18-year-old Alex Song. In phrases of age alone, it may very well be considered as much like the summer season switch window of final yr, through which Arteta opted to make his oldest and most skilled signing Ben White on the tender age of 23. The solely distinction is expertise was essentially the most essential facet that the signings of 2005 lacked, Walcott had left secondary faculty simply six months after becoming a member of Arsenal. Whether that fast-tracked improvement helped or hindered Walcott is one thing that the ex-England worldwide can mirror upon as soon as he hangs up his boots, however analysing his Arsenal profession alone – it nonetheless divides opinion.

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The stats make for welcome studying for the ahead who managed to attain 108 targets for the Gunners throughout his 12 seasons on the membership. It locations him within the unique ‘100’ membership alongside the likes of Thierry Henry, Ian Wright and Robin van Persie. And but, should you ask even essentially the most forgiving of Arsenal followers they might battle to make a case for Walcott to be within the dialogue with these three in terms of all-round means. Sceptics would recommend Walcott solely managed to achieve that tally as a result of he was stored on the membership far longer than he ought to have been by a supervisor who’s leniency could have result in his personal eventual demise.

Theo Walcott spent 12 seasons at Arsenal

Ultimately, the reality lay someplace in between, however to check the Arsenal youth of in the present day to that of Walcott’s period is a distinction that shines a lightweight on among the current Southampton ahead’s flaws that at all times lingered all through his profession. Ex-England midfielder Chris Waddle acquired criticism from some quarters over his feedback suggesting Walcott didn’t have a soccer mind. Speaking on BBC Radio Five Live, Waddle stated: “It’s all off the cuff. “He’s not wanting as if to suppose, ‘This is the place I wish to be, that is the place I wish to go, and that is what I’m going to do’. “People maintain saying to me, ‘Oh he is younger and he’ll study’, I maintain considering, ‘Fabregas has learnt and he is younger, Rooney has learnt… all of them learn the sport so properly.”

Chris Waddle as soon as claimed Theo Walcott had “no soccer mind”

Were Waddle making those self same remarks in the present day, he might have fairly simply changed Fabregas and Rooney’s names with Saka and Smith Rowe’s. The current Arsenal duo present the sort of soccer intelligence some gamers 10 years their senior would kill to own. Smith Rowe has bagged 10 targets in round 12 months since he was thrust into the limelight with a shocking full Premier League debut towards Chelsea on Boxing Day of 2020. To put that into context, it took Walcott 86 Premier League fixtures throughout 4 seasons to achieve 9 whereas taking part in in a extra superior place.

Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe have established themselves as Arsenal regulars

Walcott loved some stellar moments in an Arsenal shirt together with targets in FA Cup and League Cup finals, in addition to a brace towards Barcelona. His two targets towards the Catalan giants clearly sparked concern into the center of some Barca stars, with Lionel Messi claiming Walcott was “probably the most harmful gamers I’ve ever performed towards” in 2011. The best distinction between Walcott and the academy graduates in Arsenal’s first workforce these days is that folks not truly view Saka or Smith Rowe as ‘prospects’, merely first-team regulars.

Theo Walcott left Arsenal in January 2018, simply three days shy of his twelfth anniversary on the membership

That is in stark distinction to Walcott, who struggled to shake off the tag of ‘younger, promising participant’ as a result of naivety within the tactical aspect of his recreation that was nonetheless so outstanding years into his Arsenal profession. He finally referred to as time on his north London stint within the winter of 2018, the identical window through which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang arrived and Olivier Giroud left. As a end result, his exit was a muted one out the Emirates backdoor with out producing an excessive amount of fanfare as he headed up north to ply his commerce for Everton, It was the precise reverse to his arrival with the Gunners, that generated such hysteria approach again in 2006. Read More

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