Arsenal transfer focus – Holtby contract running low in similar vein to present Gunners

The uncertainty over Robin van Persie’s future continues to linger over the Arsenal setup like a stormy cloud. But, as if that wasn’t worrying enough for Gunners supporters, there is increasingly fierce speculation over the future of winger Theo Walcott.

According to several newspapers, including the Daily Mail, Walcott has reportedly been courted by Chelsea and Liverpool for some time. Like van Persie, the England wide man has less than a year to run on his current contract at the Emirates Stadium and is pushing for an increase in his wage packet should Arsenal want to extend his deal.

The Daily Mirror reports that Walcott will discover his fate next week when Arsenal return from their tour of Asia. Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board will meet with Walcott and his representatives to discuss a potential new deal but, according to the Evening Standard, may have to up any weekly wage from the current £70,000 to around £100,000.

With Arsenal well known for sticking to a very strict wage structure, Walcott’s future could lie away from North London, leaving Wenger approximately one month to search for a replacement.

Having already been linked with Ibrahim Afellay, Spaniard Santi Cazorla and German Lewis Holtby are the latest names to be touted as replacements for Walcott, who scored eight goals in the Premier League last season.

Schalke winger Holtby, who has an English father, has two Germany caps to his name but, like Walcott, only has a year left to run on his current deal. Quoted in the Daily Mirror, Holtby commented on speculation he may be heading to the Premier League by saying: “I like it at Schalke. I will give my best in training and the manager will decide if I am a first team player.”

Holtby also told “The Premier League is a goal at some point. As a footballer, you want to improve always, and in football everything is possible. But I’m comfortable at Schalke. My contract runs until 2013 – my agent looks after everything else.”

Meanwhile, Arsenal midfielder Mikel Arteta has been hailing Santi Cazorla’s footballing abilities ahead of what the Daily Mail reports is virtually a done deal between the Gunners and his current club Malaga for £16m.

Arteta said: “I cannot talk about the actual situation but I can say that I know him as a player really well. He’s a top, top player. He has got unbelievable quality and talent and that is all I can say.”

Boss Wenger has also praised Cazorla’s talents. He said: “I share the opinion of Mikel Arteta. Cazorla is a great player. We bought Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski but we are not at the end of the transfers. We will still bring players in.”

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