• Premier League

Vermaelen unsurprised if Walcott leaves

ESPN staff
December 18, 2012

Arsenal captain Thomas Vermaelen admits he will not be surprised if Theo Walcott leaves the club in the summer.

Walcott is out of contract at the end of the season, with negotiations over a new deal to remain at Emirates Stadium still ongoing - as clubs including Chelsea and Liverpool reportedly continue to monitor his situation.

Walcott expressed his hope on Monday that his long-term future will be sorted "soon", but Vermaelen will not be surprised if the England international follows in the footsteps of Robin van Persie and leaves for pastures new.

"Of course we want him to stay, but that is something that is going on between the player and the club," Vermaelen said. "I don't know what is going on behind the scenes - we don't talk about it, because that is going on in football all the time.

"It happened last time with Robin in the summer. It's the job of the board and the club what they are going to do with it so we can't do anything about it."

In the meantime, Walcott appears set to be given an extended run as a central striker for the Gunners - after impressing in the role during the 5-2 Premier League victory against Reading.

Vermaelen added: "Theo has been invaluable for us when he played this year. He is dangerous for us, can stretch a team with his pace and I hope he could stay this year."

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