• Premier League

Wenger predicts 'happy conclusion' to Walcott talks

ESPN staff
January 11, 2013 « Dodson chasing pigs & squirrels to prepare for Johnson | Chartbeat test »

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger claims his club are closing in on a "happy conclusion" in their contract negotiations with Theo Walcott.

Wenger has given an upbeat assessment of the latest developments in the long-running debate over Walcott's future, and he has given his broadest hint yet that his 23-year-old forward is ready to commit his future to Arsenal.

"We are on a good road," Wenger said when quizzed about contract talks with Walcott's representatives. "In this situation, as long as nothing is signed, you are cautious. I am optimistic that we will come to a happy conclusion. I was optimistic last week, but I am a bit more optimistic this week."

Wenger went on to confirm he expects Walcott to sign a new Arsenal contract by the end of this month and insisted the former Southampton trainee is not demanding a central striking role before he signs a new deal.

"I can see Theo playing more up front but he never made it a condition to sign or not," stressed Wenger. "He is happy to play on the flank as well. I see him playing more up front."

The Arsenal boss went on to dampen down expectations that he is ready to splash the cash to sign new players by the end of this month. Wenger backtracked somewhat on his previous statements suggesting he would "be active" in player recruitment during this window.

He brushed off suggestions that he was in the running to sign Alvaro Negredo from Sevilla and hinted that he is content with the balance of his squad and may struggle to improve it before the month is out.

"We have two targets," Wenger said. "The first is to get the players who are inside the club signed up and the second is to get our injuries back. We have [Tomas] Rosicky available again now, [Abou] Diaby is available again and if you look at our squad it is quite a complete squad.

"We still work on the transfer market of course, but we do not want to bring in average [players]. We only want to bring in exceptional players and at the moment, we have not found them.

"At the moment nobody can leave unless we buy somebody. Our focus is to keep everybody. In every position we have two players. Three is too many and one is not enough."

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