Theo Walcott finally signs new Arsenal deal - image rights key
Gunners forward gets £100k a week and will have control over his image during World Cup
THEO WALCOTT has finally signed a new three-and-a-half year contract with Arsenal, worth around £100,000 a week. He put pen to paper on the deal today after months of negotiations with the Gunners.
The 23-year-old forward becomes the highest-paid player at the Emirates and will also receive a £3m signing-on fee as part of the deal, thought to be worth in excess of £20m.
Walcott had kept Arsenal fans in suspense since turning down what was described as a "final offer" from the club worth £75,000 a week in August. With his existing deal due to expire at the end of the summer there were fears that he would follow in the footsteps of stars like Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie and walk away from the club.
The England international was linked to Arsenal's Premier League rivals, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City, as well as overseas clubs including Juventus, before he eventually decided to stay put, albeit on vastly improved terms.
According to the BBC the negotiations revolved around the length of the contract and off-field issues. "Walcott favoured a three-and-a-half year deal and common ground was found on that, and also on the complex area of image rights."
It is thought that Walcott's representatives were eager to retain control over his image, particularly with the opportunities surrounding next year's World Cup in Brazil.
In the autumn it was also reported that the player was demanding a more central striking role, as opposed to a place on the wing. However, manager Arsene Wenger last week rejected that idea. "Theo can have a preference maybe to play through the middle but first of all he never made a condition of that to extend his contract, because certainly I would not accept it," he said.
Walcott joins fellow Brits Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who all signed five-year extensions last month.
The news was welcomed on Twitter with celebrity fan Piers Morgan writing: "BOOM! Thank you for your loyalty, Theo".