Wenger warns Walcott on contract delay

Arsene Wenger admits there could come a time when Theo Walcott’s contract situation may impact on his role within the Arsenal team.

Walcott, 23, is into the final season of his current deal, and as yet, negotiations over an extension remain unresolved.

There had been suggestions the England forward — who could potentially sign a lucrative pre-contract agreement with another club in January — would be sold in the last transfer window to avoid him moving as a free agent next summer.

And Wenger admits that should the situation drag on, he could reconsider how best to utilise the player he signed when only 16 under a media frenzy.

“It can (change selection policy), but at the moment I still hope to extend his contract so at the moment, it doesn’t affect me. Of course at some stage...” said Wenger, whose side kick off their Champions League campaign in Montpellier tonight.

“If in April it (contract) is not done, you can think it will be difficult to do.”

Walcott has not started a match since the opening day against Sunderland — and received a mixed reception from some sections of the Emirates Stadium crowd when coming on against former club Southampton on Saturday, scoring the final goal in the 6-1 victory.

Wenger, though, feels Walcott will be able to handle the boo-boys.

“You want your players to be supported no matter what kind if contractual situation they are in,” the Gunners boss said.

“I hope it will not affect him and that it will not affect our fans.”

Wenger continued: “Theo has gone through a lot at 23 years of age. A lot of positives, a lot of negatives and he is level-headed.

“We are lucky: I don’t know what they do at Southampton, but they bring players out, (Alex Oxlade) Chamberlain and him, with their feet on the ground.”

Wenger also admitted he will “feel powerless” watching Arsenal from the stands tonight — and maintained he still does not really understand why UEFA handed him a three-match suspension. Wenger was fined €40,000 and banned after he confronted referee Damir Skomina in the wake of last season’s Champions League defeat by AC Milan at Emirates Stadium.

That followed on from the Frenchman being sanctioned after his post-match outburst following defeat in Barcelona during March 2011, which saw him banished from the dugout for the crucial Champions League qualifier against Udinese last season — only to then communicate with the Arsenal bench, to again fall foul of Europe’s governing body.

Wenger, though, sees no reason why it should impact on Arsenal’s performance in France tonight, where new assistant Steve Bould will take charge on the sidelines.

“I will feel powerless, but sometimes I have that feeling on the bench anyway,” said Wenger.

“An element of the unexpected can happen, but Steve has experience.”

The Arsenal manager maintains the guidance received by the governing body is far from clear.

“Honestly, nobody knows really — even at UEFA — what is allowed and not allowed,” he said.

“When I ask: ‘But what is it really about?’ Nobody can tell me.

“I appealed. First, let’s not forget, that I was suspended last year for having done what they told me I can do.

“When I went back there and said: ‘Why do you want to punish me?’ “They said: ’because you communicated with your bench,’ I said: ‘but you allowed me to do it!’ “They said: ‘We made a mistake, but we punish you anyway’. They love to suspend me.”

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