Theo Walcott secures £20m Everton transfer from Arsenal and admits: ‘I want to reignite my career’
Theo Walcott said that he had chosen “the right time to leave Arsenal” after completing his £20 million move to Everton.
Now 28, Walcott will be 32 by the time his new contract expires and, after more than 400 games and 12 years at Arsenal, is now aiming to help Everton into the Champions League. “I’m very ambitious and I’ve come here because I want the club to push to the next level,” said Walcott.
“With the players that have come in, I feel like the next level can be reached. The club has won trophies but I want them to win trophies now. The manager is very hungry and it’s just what I need. I’ve had a couple of chats with him and straightaway I felt that hunger and that desire that he wanted from me. I need that and I wanted that.”
Walcott, who could also have joined former club Southampton, scored 108 goals for Arsenal despite a sense that he never fulfilled his potential after arriving for what was then a world-record fee for a 16 year-old. He has not started a Premier League game this season. “It was sad but it’s exciting at the same time and I want to reignite my career, “ he said.
Manager Sam Allardyce feels Walcott is a statement signature and another sign of Everton competing for coveted names. He is the second major deal in this window following the capture of Cenk Tosun from Besiktas.
“I’m thrilled we’ve been able to secure a player of Theo’s experience and quality,” said Allardyce.
“There was a bit of a chase between a couple of clubs but I think after we set out the ambitions of the club and my ambitions for him he was motivated to come here and refreshed in his mind by the new challenge he can put upon himself.
“He wants to play every week and really take his career forward again. In the past and certainly with last season what we saw and what we’ve looked at with the amount of goals, assists and pace that he brings, it’s a very good acquisition and a lot of shrewd negotiation by the club in terms of today’s prices. He’s got a lot of ambition to take off again with his career. He’s in his prime.”
Missing out on Walcott was a big disappointment for Southampton and, although they were reluctant to match Everton in terms of wages well in excess of £100,000 a week, they have discovered the added difficulty now of attracting players in the context of their precarious position. Walcott is adamant that his decision was not about money and Southampton have also missed out to Everton on Tosun. Southampton are now attempting to quickly conclude a deal for Monaco’s Argentinian striker Guido Carrillo.
Manager Mauricio Pellegrino has been promised reinvestment this January following the £75m sale of Virgil van Dijk and, with the team now only one point above the relegation zone, and winless in the Premier League since November, a sense of urgency is developing about the situation.
Carrillo, 26, has featured infrequently this season for Monaco in France’s Ligue 1 and Southampton hope to soon complete a deal that would cost around £15m.
As well as Carrillo, Southampton want to add a creative wide player who can add pace to their team. Pellegrino’s position is now under considerable scrutiny and, while the club hierarchy are sympathetic to the difficulties he faced while Van Dijk was still in the dressing-room but evidently keen to leave, they are nevertheless disappointed by results.
At the start of the season, it was felt that the squad could realistically mirror Burnley and potentially offer a challenge to get into the top six and certainly compete to finish best of the rest. The Telegraph