- Premier League
Arsenal confirm new long-term deal for Walcott
Theo Walcott has signed a new three-and-a-half year, £100,000-a-week contract with Arsenal.
After weeks of speculation about whether he would agree a new deal with the Gunners or move elsewhere, Walcott, 23, put pen to paper on the contract on Friday.
The England international forward - Arsenal's top scorer - had been in the last six months of his contract at Emirates Stadium, and turned down a £75,000-a-week offer in August.
Manager Arsene Wenger and defender Thomas Vermaelen had stressed that keeping Walcott was a priority, and an agreement between the club and his advisers was reportedly reached on Thursday before Arsenal confirmed the deal the following day.
Wenger - who helped secure new contracts for Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson earlier this season - is thrilled to have finally sorted out Walcott's future at the club.
"We are all delighted that Theo has signed a new contract," Wenger said. "He joined us as a 16-year-old and since then has developed very well to become an extremely important player for both Arsenal Football Club and England.
"Theo is a strong player and also a great person, and the combination of his ability and pace always make him such a valuable asset either from the flanks or down the middle. Theo's contract extension now gives us a strong nucleus of ambitious young players who have committed to the club and want to be successful with us as a group."
Walcott himself, is also delighted with the deal, and insists he always wanted to remain at Arsenal despite speculation linking him with the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool.
"I am very happy to have signed a new contract here at Arsenal," Walcott said. "Thanks to everyone for their continued support, especially the manager, everyone at the club and most importantly the fans.
"I have made it clear from the start that I wanted to stay at Arsenal so I am pleased we have agreed a deal that everyone is happy with. What's important now is for the team to realise its potential and win trophies."
Walcott has repeatedly said the protracted negotiations were not about money but about his desire to play as a central striker rather than a winger.
The new deal is a statement of intent by Arsenal, who have lost major players such as Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas in recent seasons.