Wenger: Walcott deal key to future
Manager Arsene Wenger hopes signing Theo Walcott up to a long-term deal will signal the end of Arsenal's developing players heading straight through the Emirates Stadium exit.
Arsenal are determined to complete negotiations with Walcott's representatives over a contract extension, which is reported to be worth around £90,000-a-week. Wenger feels should a deal for Walcott be pushed through, it would send a message of intent that the likes of Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson and Kieran Gibbs are all here to stay.
"Theo signing would at least give a positive message out for us, to the our fans who love the club, that the way is not necessarily exit, but is stability. We are not there yet (with Walcott), but I hope we will get there," said Wenger.
"When you go for a policy like we have for young players, you know when they get to 23 to 30 or more, they will play for you - but if you give them a chance at 18 and then at 23 they go somewhere else, you have basically worked for another club.
"What we want is the players to grow up together and say they will be successful together. Chamberlain is 19, Wilshere is 21, Walcott is 23, Jenkinson 20, Gibbs 23 - they are all good players.
"You need a core inside which represents the strengths and values of the club. We had that before - (Thierry) Henry, (Patrick) Vieira, they stayed eight or nine years all together - and now we have created that again."
Cesc Fabregas was Gunners skipper when he moved away, returning to boyhood club Barcelona in a £30million deal during August 2011.
Wenger, however, feels the circumstances behind the transfer were understandable given the Spain international's strong ties to the Nou Camp, but maintains he can see a time when the 25-year-old could be back with the Gunners.
"Fabregas was an exception and I would try again (to sign him). For me he is a world-class player which you do not find. I am not convinced he will not come back here one day," Wenger said. "In the next two or three years, certainly not because he is contracted with Barcelona, but maybe later."