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Wenger: Walcott Owes it to Arsenal to Stay

Arsene Wenger believes Theo Walcott owes it to him and to Arsenal to sign a new deal. The 23-year-old Englishman, currently in negotiations over an extension to a contract that expires in the summer, is believed to want first-team assurances as well as a salary of up to $162,000 per week. Moreover, Walcott wants to be given the chance to prove himself in the central striker’s role, from which he scored a brilliant final goal in Arsenal’s 5-2 demolition at Reading on Monday.

In an interview, Arsenal coach Wenger said he took a “gamble” on Walcott by signing him as a 16-year-old in 2006, and that he has “stood up” for him several times in the past, and wants to see his faith repaid. "What is important to keep the young players together is that at some stage I have stood up for them; I played you at 17, 18, 19 years of age and I know I took a gamble," Wenger said. "It is easier to take a player of 25 and put him in the team. You know what you are getting. If you put them in at 17 or 18, you have to stand up for them. You risk losing games while they are learning their job. Once you have produced them you want to say, 'Okay, let's stay together and win together.'” He added: “Somewhere along the line they need to give back to the club what the club has given to them.”

Wenger said that Arsenal would not be held to ransom over Walcott’s wage demands. "I am happy to pay Theo the money he deserves, but I feel as well that I bought him at 16 years of age and spent a lot of money on him. I am a big supporter and I believe he is happy here. Theo has always looked to me like he is an Arsenal man."

Read the whole story at Sky Sports »

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