- Premier League
Wenger: Walcott will not leave in January
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists contract rebel Theo Walcott will not be sold in the January transfer window, claiming on Thursday he expects the England man to sign a new deal.
Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey and Carl Jenkinson handed Arsenal a major boost by agreeing to new long-term contracts with the club on Wednesday, with Wenger suggesting the feel-good factor created by that news may influence Walcott's decision making.
"He has to make his mind up now and I hope the decision taken by the other players will help him to do that," Wenger said.
"We will not sell Theo in January, that is for sure. My gut feeling is he belongs to this club and I hope he will stay. Once he makes up his mind, it will be done quick.
"The question, at the end of the day, is can you pay what the player wants? And does it fit with your wage structure? We have a wage bill that has to be respected.
"I always fought in my life for players to make money so therefore I am happy when the players make big money. I always fight for that, but it has to be possible for the club to pay it."
Wenger went on to insist he has the full backing of the club's board despite his side's recent difficulties and confirmed he will look to strengthen his squad in the January transfer window if presented with the right opportunities.
"I have always had the support from the board, and am very grateful for that," he said. "We have worked over the years in respecting in what we did, which is to always work within our financial resources.
"Therefore we made decisions which from outside looked not based on purely footballing reasons, but it was based as well on financial reasons.
"What we do not want to do is add players just because people put us under pressure to buy players. That is where we have to be strong enough. If we find a player who will give us something special, we will do it, but that is not easy in January."
Meanwhile, Wenger bemoaned the decision to call off Arsenal's Boxing Day game against West Ham for safety reasons, even though it gives his side a lighter workload over the festive season.
"Ideally I would have loved to play," Wenger said. "I always prefer to play the game. The authorities decided to cancel the game so we have to accept it and play that game at another moment of the season. I would have preferred to play. We will practice on Boxing Day for sure. Christmas Day I have not decided yet."