It's good to talk: Walcott makes peace as Arsenal agree deals with Wilshere, Gibbs, Ramsey, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jenkinson
23:06 GMT, 18 December 2012
Theo Walcott has held peace talks with Arsene Wenger as Arsenal close in on securing the futures of their British core.
It is the first time since August 28, when the England forward turned down a five-year contract worth 75,000 a week, that formal discussions between player and club have taken place.
And in further good news Sportsmail understands Arsenal are set to agree deals with five of their other young British stars by Friday.
Crisp finisher: Theo Walcott hit the fifth as Arsenal demolished Reading, and the 23-year-old looks set to end uncertainty about his future by extending his Arsenal deal
Sources close to Walcott insist the 23-year-old wants to stay at Arsenal. However, he is said to have made it clear he is still currently unwilling to pen fresh terms.
As well as wanting a deal closer to 100,000 a week, Walcott also wants assurances over his role at the club.
The former Southampton man felt he was being treated unfairly by Wenger during the early weeks of the season and spent the majority of Arsenal’s opening games sat on the bench. This decision is understood to have been motivated by the contract dispute rather than footballing reasons.
In addition, Walcott also wants assurances that he will be given more opportunities to play as a central striker — where he played against Reading on Monday and scored in the 5-2 win.
The main man: Walcott wants to be utilised as a No 9
And while it seems there will be no quick resolution to the contract saga, the latest discussions are viewed as a significant step towards persuading Walcott to stay.
It is believed that a compromise solution of an 85,000-a-week contract may be enough to persuade him to sign.
Walcott may be some way from signing but Arsenal are convinced they have agreed new deals with Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Aaron Ramsey and Carl Jenkinson and it is thought they will sign by the end of the week.
Sportsmail exclusively revealed on November 28 that England midfielder Wilshere was set to sign fresh terms — and he will put pen to paper on a new five-year contract worth 80,000 a week.
Staying power: Jack Wilshere will sign a new deal at the Emirates
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ramsey, Gibbs and Jenkinson have agreed five-year deals worth between 40,000 and 60,000 a week.
Arsenal’s push to keep their best British talent indicates a deliberate shift in Wenger’s thinking.
After basing his sides around foreign players for years, the manager seems to have had a change of heart after the likes of Robin van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy all left the Emirates Stadium.
Speaking after the thumping win at Reading, Wenger said: ‘We have a core of good young English players and I hope we will be able to build a team around them and that they can achieve something together.’
Bright young things: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (left) and Kieran Gibbs have also signed new deals