The England international's contract negotiations have hit a brick wall, putting the Premier League champions on red alert after their bid to sign Scott Sinclair collapsedBy Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent
Negotiations between Walcott and the Gunners over a new five-year contract hit an impasse earlier this week, prompting immediate enquiries from City as to the 23-year-old's availability.
Arsenal have indicated they might even be prepared to offload Walcott this week if talks over a new deal continue to stall, given that he has entered the final year of his contract.
However, talks will resume between the Londoners and Walcott’s representatives on Wednesday, with both parties hopeful that a resolution can be reached as the clock ticks down to Friday’s transfer deadline.
Premier League champions City have turned their attention to the England international as they consider alternatives to Scott Sinclair, whose expected move from Swansea City hit a stumbling block on Monday.
City director Brian Marwood is close to the Walcott camp and has enquired about the player’s interest in a shock switch to Etihad Stadium. Liverpool and Chelsea are also believed to be monitoring developments as deadline day approaches.
However, the interest is strongest from City with manager Roberto Mancini putting pressure on the club’s executives to recruit an established wide player after selling Adam Johnson to Sunderland in a deal worth up to £15million last Friday.
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Walcott has been locked in contract negotiations with Arsenal since the back end of last season and had been hoping for a significant upgrade on his current £60,000-a-week deal, which has already entered its final year.
Goal.com revealed back in April that the former Southampton winger, who is understood to be have been disappointed at the recent sale of Robin van Persie, had been holding out for a £100,000-a-week salary that would now make him comfortably the club’s highest earner.
But Arsenal will not be held to ransom by the player and have made it clear they will not increase their package for Walcott beyond £80,000-a-week.
Both parties stress that negotiations are ongoing and are hopeful that a resolution can swiftly be found, although the likelihood of a transfer for around £12million is increasing while Arsenal’s contract offer remains unsigned.
This has put City on red alert, although senior Arsenal officials, including chief executive Ivan Gazidis and manager Arsene Wenger, will be aware of the repercussions should Walcott follow Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure, Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri on the already well-trodden path to Etihad Stadium.
The winger established himself as an undisputed first-team regular last season, starting 29 of Arsenal’s first 32 Premier League matches and only succumbing to injury in the final weeks of the season when he tore his hamstring. He was the club’s second leading scorer behind Van Persie, weighing in with 11 in all competitions.
City are desperate to beef up their squad after running into so many dead ends during an increasingly frantic search for reinforcements, with Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins branding them “unprofessional” for their pursuit of Scott Sinclair.
City are understood to have tabled a £6m bid for the winger last week but talks have stalled over the composition of add-ons, with Swansea holding out for a deal that might eventually be worth £8m.