Walcott begs Arsenal to save his Champions League dream
Forward urges Gunners to show more belief and commitment in fight for top-four finish
AFTER finally signing a new contract with Arsenal, Theo Walcott has taken on the role of Gunners cheerleader and urged his team-mates to show more commitment and belief as they battle to break into the top four of the Premier League.
The forward has also spoken about the pressure he was under during his contract stand-off with Arsenal, which began when he turned down a new offer from the club in August and only ended when he agreed a new deal, worth £100,000-a-week, last Friday.
He admitted that the speculation about his future took its toll on his friends and family, who were worried about how it would affect him. "I'm so happy it's sorted," he said.
But the episode did not have an adverse affect on his performances. "Walcott actually produced some of the best form of his career amid the uncertainty and, with his 24th birthday soon approaching, he believes that he has demonstrated his growing maturity both as a player and a person," reports the Daily Telegraph.
He could even be developing into the sort of leader that Arsenal lack, if his comments about the team are anything to go by.
"We need to start realising how good we are," said the England international. "We showed some great stuff in the second half at Chelsea but it's time we did that from the start.
"We've got some very, very good players here," he said. "I think some players don't believe they are good enough at times. But, trust me, I see them every day in training and they should believe that."
The stakes are high for Arsenal, who need to finish in the top four if they are to qualify for the Champions League next season. "Selling Robin van Persie to Manchester United brought in £24 million, but missing out on Champions League football next season could cost the club £35 million," notes The Times.
And Walcott admitted that one of the reasons he signed a new contract was the prospect of playing in Europe. "I feel we can and should be there," he said.