Arsenal star Theo Walcott has completed his transfer to Everton in a deal worth £25m.
The forward was unveiled at the club’s Finch Farm training base on Wednesday, ending his 12-year stay with the Gunners and signalling a fresh start to his career.
Despite having netted 108 goals in 397 appearances for Arsenal, Walcott plummeted down the pecking order at the Emirates this season following the arrival of Alexandre Lacazette and his progress stalled under boss Arsene Wenger.
The north London side were happy to allow the former Southampton prodigy to depart in the window, and despite several long-term injuries, Walcott has potentially got many more good years ahead of him.
Here, we analyse Walcott after his switch to Merseyside:
WALCOTT’S NEED FOR A FRESH START
Things had gone stale for the 28-year-old at Arsenal and Walcott realised that more than anyone. There will always be question marks about whether he did fulfill his potential (or could go onto) but he shouldn’t be shamed for a century of goals, two FA Cup victories and many telling moments in his Gunners career.
Walcott’s had plenty of critics, some fair and some not, but many criticisms should also be applied to Arsenal generally after their failings in the Premier League, Champions League and transfer market in recent seasons.
But, given decreased game time over the past few years and the fact he hasn’t nailed down the No.9 role that many felt was his destiny at Arsenal – especially after Thierry Henry departed – a transfer now makes sense for all parties.
A change of scenery should inject some new life into a career that started all the way back in 2006 at the tender age of 16.
WHERE DOES WALCOTT FIT IN AT EVERTON?
Will we see Walcott as a striker or winger at Goodison Park? It’s the dilemma and question that has always been the main talking point about him – with the player himself, at times, not adding much clarity to the debate.
Walcott is a decent goalscorer when you look at his return for Arsenal but he hasn’t become the marquee frontman many saw him as.
Rio Ferdinand and Glenn Hoddle, both speaking recently on BT Sport, said Walcott has suffered from a lack of coaching in the early part of his career – particularly when related to positional play and end product on the pitch.
It’s also a fair point to make that being parachuted through the England ranks and taken to the 2006 World Cup, as well as getting a big move to Arsenal when he was still just a kid, didn’t help his development.
With all that said, maybe joining Everton does finally offer some clarity about where we will see Walcott from now on – as a central striker perhaps in a two alongside new signing Cenk Tosun – with the Toffees being desperate for goals.
The main counter-argument to that is Sam Allardyce – who of course is known for his defensive and cautious approach – and more happy to go with just a lone frontman.
However, the experienced boss is aware his Everton need to offer more from an attacking perspective – and quickly – if he is to banish the Goodison booboys and stake a claim for staying beyond his initial 18-month deal.
Walcott of course adds valuable pace to a side devoid of any – and that’s something Evertonians will be happy to see. The gut-feeling around the club is that he will play wide right of Tosun in a front three featuring Yannick Bolasie on the left, with Gylfi Sigurdsson and Wayne Rooney (if both play) operating deeper.
IS EVERTON THE RIGHT CLUB FOR HIM?
Yes, in the sense that Walcott’s other options were scarcer than perhaps he would have imagined. Former side Southampton were reportedly in the running to bring him back to St Mary’s Stadium but that interest fizzled out.
Moving to Everton is not a step-up for Walcott but it’s not a big step-down either given the ambition the Merseyside club are continuing to show in the transfer market (despite a difficult season) and investment off the pitch with a new stadium in the offing.
The chances of Walcott winning silverware at Everton seem slim at the moment (the club’s last trophy was back in 1995) but at Arsenal, things aren’t exactly rosy with a split fanbase against Arsene Wenger and many of the club’s top stars like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil heading towards the exit door.
Walcott has the chance to re-establish himself again with the Merseysiders and become an instant hit with supporters as one of the club’s big players. Wayne Rooney, of course, had the sentimental connection upon his return, but he has rediscovered himself again in a case not too dissimilar to Walcott.
CAN SWITCH HELP WALCOTT’S ENGLAND AMBITIONS?
Walcott hasn’t played for the Three Lions since November 2016 and isn’t in Gareth Southgate’s plans at the moment but that’s not to say the door is completely shut on his England future.
With the World Cup just a few months away now, if Walcott can play regularly for Everton, chip in with goals and stay fully fit then he will surely be considered, at the very least.
With 47 caps under his belt and eight goals, Walcott has the experience at international level but has struggled to cut it in the past since his debut all those years ago.
At this stage, becoming a key man for Everton will be at the forefront of his mind rather than earning a recall.
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