Arsenal v Swansea
Monday: Emirates Stadium, 8pm
TV: Sky Sports 1
Arsene Wenger believes Theo Walcott is keen to stay at Arsenal and insists the forward will not be sold this summer.
The 26-year-old is out of contract at the end of next season, when he could leave for nothing.
Negotiations have begun over a new deal, giving Wenger cause for optimism that Walcott, who was the subject of protracted talks before signing his current three-year deal, wishes to stay.
Walcott’s present deal was signed in January 2013, fewer than six months before that contract was due to expire.
Wenger hinted Arsenal would hold on to the England forward this summer and would only consider selling Walcott in the January 2016 winter transfer window if no new deal is agreed.
“We are already talking to him,” said Wenger, speaking ahead of Monday’s home clash with Swansea.
“When you go into negotiations with a player it is with a desire for him to stay. He looks keen to do it and I am keen to do it, so let’s see what comes out.
“We are always in the mode where we want to be successful. In case of failure, we’ll see.
“But in case of failure — that will only be in December next year.”
Carl Jenkinson is another player whose future is to be decided after he has impressed on loan at West Ham.
“I met Carl this week to speak about his future. We will sit down together at the end of the season,” said Wenger. “My target is to keep him here at the club. It’s important that, if he comes back, he has a good chance to play.”
Arsenal have won nine of their last 10 games in a run Wenger hopes to continue against Swansea in a bid to secure second place in the Premier League.
The Frenchman is determined to finish the current campaign well before building a title-challenging team for next term.
“It is difficult to know how strong every team will be next year but you gain as well your confidence from what you have achieved the year before and how you have moved forward,” Wenger added.
For his part, Swansea manager Garry Monk admits he is wary of the demands posed by the Europa League should the Welsh club qualify for next season’s competition.
Monk’s men have closed to within four points of seventh-placed Southampton and that position will be enough for European football should Arsenal beat Aston Villa in the FA Cup final on May 30.
But, having taken part in last season’s Europa League following their Capital One Cup triumph in 2013, Monk is fully aware of the extra burden of games and travel that playing in that competition brings.
He said: “I’m very mindful of that experience and how it affected us.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved