It has been a miserable campaign for Theo Walcott, which was compounded by the England squad announcement that saw him miss out on a place in Roy Hodgson’s squad to Euro 2016 in France.
The quick attacker has endured a poor campaign that has seen him on the bench for the recent months with the likes of Alex Iwobi and Danny Welbeck both justifiably preferred by boss Arsene Wenger. With that in mind, his time at the Emirates could be over, ten years after he joined as a fresh-faced teenager.
It has been a frustrating decade for Arsenal fans and Walcott h0imself. He has stated on many occasions his preference to play as the central striker but injury and other options meant that he rarely got the run of games he desired.
Whether he is good enough to be a striker for Arsenal is another debate entirely. His lightning speed and movement meant that he would always be a threat to opposition defences but even on the wing, he struggled to nail down a first team place in what seems to be an unfulfilled career.
Despite the criticism it is worth noting Walcott has made contributions, from the start of the 2012 season until the end of the 2015 season he managed 24 goals in 59 league games, a very fair return for someone predominantly on the wing. However, that it was only 59 games shows his misfortune with injuries and in a year he was expected to kick on and make himself the main man, he has scored just five times in 28 league appearances this time out. Not good enough.
With that in mind a parting of the ways seems inevitable in the summer and it could benefit both player and club. West Ham look set to win the race for his signature, with reports that Slaven Bilic has identified him as a key part of their revival as they move to the Olympic Stadium.
With the options available to Wenger, it seems unlikely the ex-Southampton man can get that football in North London. The Gunners have Ramsey, Cazorla, Ozil, Sanchez, Iwobi who can all occupy one of the attacking midfield roles, as well as Oxlade-Chamberlain who is in danger of going down the same path as Walcott.
Whilst up front Olivier Giroud is expected to face competition from a new signing for the central striker position. The only saving grace for Walcott could be the awful knee injury to Danny Welbeck that ruled him out for nine months. His versatility, in that he could operate from the left or the main striker was appreciated by Wenger and with his pace and direct style now absent, it could mean Wenger looks to keep Walcott as a squad player.
Yet, that would feel like it was delaying the inevitable. Although the final day brought much laughter thanks to another finish above Spurs in the league, it is hard not to reflect on a bad season for both Arsenal and the player. The Gunners shouldn’t have finished so far behind Leicester, especially after beating them so dramatically in February, so a fresh start could be just what the club and Walcott need to push on respectively.