Theo Walcott’s descent to the fringes of the Arsenal squad continued when he was left on the bench for their Champions League clash with Montpellier on Tuesday – and manager Arsène Wenger may have missed a trick by holding onto him.
The England winger reportedly turned down a five-year contract this summer, and with his current deal due to run out at the end of the season, Wenger recently revealed the club may not find a compromise with Walcott.
As for his contribution on the pitch, the arrivals of Lukas Podolski and Santi Cazorla, Gervinho’s recent return to form and the continued rise of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have all contributed to his gradual fall from the limelight.
Walcott has not started in any of Arsenal’s last four games and a club with their wage structure simply cannot afford to pay a perennial substitute anywhere near £100,000-a-week.
The ideal solution would perhaps have been to cash in on the winger before the end of the transfer window, especially given interest from his boyhood club Liverpool.
Wenger is keen to avoid turning Arsenal into a selling club after the high-profile exits of Cesc Fàbregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie in consecutive seasons.
However, those three were far more valuable to the club than Walcott and, if you have the opportunity to sell a mediocre player for big money, losing him on a free is a real blow.
More than likely, Arsenal and Walcott will come to an agreement over a new deal soon and he will stay at The Emirates for at least another season.
It is just difficult to shake the feeling that his excessive pay packet could be far better utilised on someone else.
Given his goal scoring exploits last year, it is little wonder Demba Ba feels a bit miffed about his role at Newcastle United this season.
The Senegalese striker’s brother and agent have both voiced their dissatisfaction in the last two days over how Ba is being played – or not played, in this case.
Coming off the bench at Goodison on Monday night, Ba salvaged a point for the Magpies with two goals, prompting his agent Alex Gontra to reveal the striker’s unhappiness.
“Since returning from the Africa Cup of Nations, Demba doesn’t understand the management. If he continues to be a substitute all season, we’ll look at other solutions,” Gontra told BBC Sport.
He has a point. Last season his return of 15 goals in 19 games was rewarded by Alan Pardew going out and signing fellow countryman and namesake Papiss Cissé in January.
The transfer facilitated a move out to the left wing for Ba, and he only scored one goal after Cissé joined the club last season – though he has so far netted three in four this year.
While his minimum fee release clause has since expired, the Toon Army should still be wary of Ba’s motivation to stay at the club.
A whole host of quality clubs would not hesitate to launch a bid for the player if they got the slightest hint he might want to leave.
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