Considering how little impact Theo Walcott has had on Arsenal's campaign this season, there has been an extortionate amount of attention devoted to where the England midfielder will be plying his trade come the start of 2013.
Undoubtedly Walcott is an extremely talented young individual, but one has to wonder exactly why Arsenal are so desperate to hold onto the 23-year-old from Stanmore.
Theo has not factored much in Arsene Wenger's first team this season, making most of his 12 appearances as a late substitute.
However, it would appear as though the Arsenal boss is willing to fight tooth and nail to ensure that the man he signed six years ago from Southampton stays at the Emirates a little while longer.
One cannot help but think that this is due mostly to the club's attempt to save face. Over the past few years the Gunners have been somewhat humiliated in the transfer market, seeing the players that they developed in their youth system being poached away by "bigger" clubs.
If Walcott were to join the Red Devils this January, he would be adding his name to a list of Arsenal "deserters" that includes the likes of Samir Nari, Alex Song, Cesc Fabregas, Gael Clichey and, of course, Robin van Persie.
All of these men took it upon themselves to try and fight for a place in a first XI of a title-contending club, rather than remain in London in the security of first-team football at the Emirates.
But the underpinning question here is: Is Walcott really on a par with these superstars?
Usually when a player has left the Gunners over the past couple of seasons, it's because his performances have started to exceed the level of football that Arsenal have been playing. Naturally they look to achieve the very best during this purple patch in their career, and as such, a move to a team like Barcelona or United seems like the best option.
In Walcott's case, this is completely different. Theo has struggled to make it into one of the poorest England side's the nation has seen in years, let alone finding a regular place in the Arsenal first XI.
So it begs the question of why on earth Manchester United—who currently sit six points clear of closest rivals City at the top of the Premier League table—would want to sign the young man up?
Certainly there is no lack of talent in the United offence at the current moment in time. The Tablecloth Army have managed to net an outstanding 43 goals in 17 games so far this season in the league alone.
Both flanks are amply covered, with Antonio Valencia and the ever-improving Ashley Young showing their worth game in, game out.
Some pundits have suggested that Theo could be played in an attacking trio with RVP and Wayne Rooney. This combination would certainly muster some terrific performances...but is it really worth it? Do United really need to splash the cash to bring in Walcott when they have world-class talents like Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck sitting on the bench who could do exactly the same thing for smaller wages?
From a United point of view, this transfer makes absolutely no sense. Theo is young, but still well past the age where Fergie and the academy can work their magic and develop his skills any further. His form and general performances since joining Arsenal in 2006 simply aren't up to the standards one would expect of a United player in this day and age.
If Sir Alex is wise, then Walcott will not be turning out in the red of Manchester any time soon.
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