• Winger could leave for nothing next summer
• Arsène Wenger plans talks with Walcott on Asia tour
Arsenal have yet to open new contract talks with Theo Walcott, despite the forward being in the final 12 months of his contract and the club not entitled to receive anything in player development costs if he were to leave on a free transfer.
The England winger's deal expires on 30 June 2013 and were he to part company with the club at that time and remain under the age of 24, a tribunal would intervene to fix a compensation fee owing to Arsenal.
Such a tribunal would take into account the work that Arsenal have done to develop Walcott, the length of time that he has been at the club, the fee that they paid for him and his appearance record, at domestic and international level. Given that Arsenal paid about £11m to take Walcott from Southampton as a 16-year-old and he has since made 220 appearances for them and 28 for England, a tribunal could be expected to rule that his value has not decreased.
Unhappily for Arsenal, though, Walcott celebrates his 24th birthday on 16 March. For the sake of a few months, they risk losing an eight-figure sum, if they cannot agree to fresh terms with him.
Arsenal have attracted criticism for allowing key players to enter the final 12 months of their contracts, most notably the captain Robin van Persie, who has said that he will not sign a new one and intends to leave the club. Manchester City, Manchester United and Juventus want him, with City the best placed in financial terms to make the deal happen.
Last summer Samir Nasri left for City, with less than 12 months to run on his Arsenal contract while now, Andrey Arshavin, the £15m signing from Zenit St Petersburg in 2009, has a similar period remaining.
Arshavin is back in training with Arsenal after returning from his loan in the second-half of last season at Zenit.
Walcott was scheduled to start discussions with Arsenal over a new deal in January but his form dipped and he decided to concentrate on recovering it and postponed the talks. No window was found at the end of the season and Walcott is currently on holiday after his exertions at Euro 2012.
He is due back at the end of the week and he will be on the team flight to Kuala Lumpur on Saturday for the first leg of the club's Asia tour. It is anticipated that the manager, Arsène Wenger, will attempt to talk to Walcott if the opportunity arises in Asia before the player's representative sits down with the Arsenal contract negotiator, Dick Law, when the Gunners return to London.
Walcott started 41 games in all competitions for Arsenal last season, scoring 11 goals, and his value to the club in commercial terms will be reinforced when they return to Malaysia and China next week, and also visit Hong Kong. Walcott was the poster boy of last summer's tour.
Arsenal have confirmed that the striker Carlos Vela is on the brink of a transfer to Real Sociedad after spending last year on loan with the Spanish club. Read More
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