by Jack Heaney

As every summer drifts by, a handful of Arsenal first teamers seem to join it. The likes of Cesc Fabregas, who one feels was always going to return to Barcelona at some point, along with the now minted but seemingly universally hated Samir Nasri have all shooed themselves past the door of the Emirates in recent years. It really has become some sort of sick tradition: the bolts are clamped, the feet stamp and the eyes begin to roll. Not to mention this year’s annual evacuees Robin Van Persie and Alex Song. As ever, these players often use the lust for trophies as reason for upping and leaving.

This excuse must be given some sympathy – the likes of United and Barcelona are, ultimately, more in contention for trophies than Arsenal have been over the last few years. But at the same time the leavers appear to fail to inhale the obvious: if you were to stay, the team would prosper to the point where silverware is but a cusp away. Isn’t it the easy way out to join an already made club?

And so the overt drone of ‘Arsene has lost it’, coupled with the media spotlight makes life a little harder for Gooners. I do end up feeling a tad sorry for the Frenchman. Of course, while my eyes always begin to roll at the fierceness with which Wenger and his team are criticised, we must remember that Arsene is not blameless. The side’s mentality, to be fair, is often fragmented and inconsistent and the way contracts are negotiated is strange. Arsene himself is not a saint – cranky and steadfast, sometimes it feels the protective shroud he casts over his players is what sows the seeds of a mentality weaker than that of its rivals. The club as a whole is very well-run, but the confusion over the issue of money – and the way in which it is spent – always seems to be prevalent, as is the moral high ground Arsene sometimes takes when other clubs spend such opulent amounts (and win trophies).

But still, often it seems some people forget what Wenger has done for Arsenal – and what he is trying to do. It is in the case of one Theo Walcott that I feel sympathy for the Frenchman. Contract negotiations have stalled, and nearly every newspaper has made it unequivocally clear that Walcott is inches away from blessing another club with his (inconsistent) finery. The way in which the end looms is anything but fine, and horrifically astonishing: according to reports, Theo has turned down the offer of 75K a week and seeks a wage of somewhere around 100 thousand pounds. The skewered conclusion is that, once again, Arsenal are losing one of their starting players.

The truth is that the density of the blame lies with Theo Walcott, not with Arsene Wenger. The argument against Theo Walcott is archaic but agonisingly truthful: the only consistent thing about the winger is his inconsistency. 15 or so games a year, Theo will drench the defence with a vivacious, tenacious pace which justifies the magnetic spotlight that was cast upon him when just 16 years of age. For another 15, the palette of his talents will be choppy and segregated. For the other 15, he will be mundane; glib; temporal; ruddy useless as the chips and pie man would say; obtuse as this pretentious article writer would opine.

This is not a case of Arsene losing his best players, nor is it an emblem of the nearly men culture some say embodies Arsenal. Though I truly hate myself for sounding so tedious and sanctimonious, these latest developments reveal Walcott to be the epitome of the modern footballer.

Where does his blinkered idea of self-worth come from? What could fill Walcott with such delusions? What actually is it: performing well every other game? Providing a great cameo for England against Sweden at Euro 2012? Surely he couldn’t base an argument for a 25% wage increase on those three points. It is not so much the money, more that he assumes his recent form justifies this monetary pat on the back. While Van Persie and Alex Song are two losses for Arsenal, it must be remembered that the Londoners have also purchased the impressive and ambidextrous Santi Cazorla, the promising Olivier Giroud, not to mention German international Lukas Podolski as well as having Arteta, Rosicky and Wilshere to return. It is not as if Theo would be running alongside legless reserves; at a closer inspection, Arsenal’s squad looks like a dark horse.

The idea that Walcott could dictate to the club is absurd – the Englishman has worked under Wenger for six years and should know that this arrogance is the type of perniciousness his boss wants to keep from infecting Arsenal. If Walcott is to leave, some will no doubt weave the departure into an ‘Arsenal crisis’ headline. But truth be told, Theo’s exodus will raise no more than a half-hearted wave from the Arsenal fans who have witnessed his consistent inconsistency. Someone may ask the question: what is wrong with Arsenal? The answer is simply another question: what is wrong with Theo Walcott?

After a huge amount of trust and loyalty shown to the winger – largely by Wenger – even when so many were ready to criticise him, his demand should be met with scorn. It is not a case of the club selling its talent, a lack of ambition or Wenger’s ‘principles’ – both of which I assure you I have criticised before. This is simply a player who is unwilling to put the work in to justify his claim to monetary benefits.

Quite simply, this bad apple should be thrown to the foxes. Pink boots and all.