Belfast Telegraph

Arsene Wenger keen to keep hat-trick hero Theo Walcott at Arsenal

Arsenal 4 West Brom 1

By Matt McGeehan

Arsene Wenger is confident Arsenal can broker a deal to keep Theo Walcott at the club, with the England forward having signed off the Premier League campaign with a hat-trick in a 4-1 win over West Brom.

Walcott, who has yet to commit his long-term future to the Gunners, is out of contract at the end of next season and laid down a marker to be included in the starting XI for the FA Cup final against Aston Villa at Wembley with a blistering first-half display from a central striker's role.

The England forward, who has battled back from a serious knee injury, cracked in the opening goal after just four minutes, and then quickly doubled Arsenal's lead before Jack Wilshere, on his 100th league appearance, volleyed in a superb third.

Walcott completed his hat-trick on 37 minutes with a close-range tap in to end the match as a contest before half-time, before Gareth McAuley headed a second half consolation for the Baggies.

Wenger sees no reason why Arsenal should not be able to conclude successful talks with his representatives.

"Without a hat-trick, with a hat-trick, we want him to stay.

"We are in negotiations. We are starting to speak with his agent, and that is before he had made his hat-trick," said Wenger, whose side finished third to secure automatic qualification for the Champions League.

"Theo is a good scorer, but he has been out for a year.

"A year in a football is a long, long time, and it takes time to be back at your best.

"I've always said that he can play in the middle because he has good movement and good finishing.

"He did that well today."

Meanwhile, West Brom have decided to release Northern Ireland international Chris Baird.

Belfast Telegraph


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