Theo Walcott: Arsene Wenger urges winger to sign new deal

Walcott ready for striker role - Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has urged Theo Walcott to sign a new contract and give the Gunners a lift as they bid to end their eight-year trophy drought.

Walcott, 23, is Arsenal's top scorer but his contract expires in the summer and he is free to speak to other clubs.

"I'm convinced it will have a positive effect on the rest of the team if we sign him," said Wenger.

The Frenchman also confirmed that centre-backs Sebastien Squillaci and Johan Djourou could leave the club.

"If Squillaci finds a club, he might go," said Wenger. "Djourou might go as well. That will be decided in the next 48 to 72 hours."

When asked if he was encouraged by the progress in Walcott's contract situation, Wenger replied: "Yes. We are talking. We want to keep him here. Our priority is to keep players at the club.

"It is very difficult to be predictable in these situations but our desire is there to do it as quickly as possible and we are ready to do it."

Walcott has scored 14 goals in all competitions this season, his best tally in a single campaign since joining Arsenal in 2006.

He wants to play as a central striker and excelled in that position with a hat-trick in the last Saturday.

However, the England forward is now in a position to sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club, or join a Premier League side for free at the end of the season.

He rejected a new five-year deal worth £75,000 a week in August and is holding out for closer to £100,000 a week.

"I only speak for our side, and my side is that we want him to stay here," said Wenger.

"Of course I don't want to speak much more about that situation because it can be misinterpreted and I don't think he is only interested by money. I don't believe that."

Wenger has revealed he will be active in the January transfer window, external-link but insists keeping his current squad together is the main focus.

"First of all we have to make sure the players who are here stay here, after we look outside," he added.

"Let's first try to finalise with Theo and after if we need something else we will go somewhere else, but our first priority is that.

"The most important players for us are those who are here. Those who are on the transfer market will not help us win the games."

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