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Wenger: Walcott Arsenal contract talks heading toward 'happy conclusion'

The Frenchman said he is now "more optimistic" of securing the attacker's services, while he insisted that the 23-year-old has not made playing up front a condition of signing

Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Theo Walcott is moving closer to signing a new Arsenal deal after talks progressed "smoothly but slowly."

The Gunners forward has always expressed his desire to stay at the Emirates, but with his current deal expiring at the end of the season he has been fiercely linked with a move away. It now seems that the former Southampton man will eventually extend his stay in North London, with the club's manager insisting he expects to keep hold of the player after tiresome negotiations.

"We're on a good road," Wenger told reporters. "As long as nothing is signed, you are cautious. I'm optimistic that we'll get to a happy conclusion. I was optimistic last week. I'm a bit more optimistic this week."

Reports have suggested that the England international was after a clause in his contract guaranteeing him more chances to play as the central striker, after being used mainly as a winger during his time with Arsenal, but Wenger has denied those claims.

The Frenchman has instead indicated that the attacker is "happy to play on the wing," but did hint that the 23-year-old will be handed more opportunities in his preferred position.

"I believe that Theo can have a preference to play in the middle, but first of all he never made a condition of that to extend his contract," Wenger said.

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