Theo Walcott will not sign a new contract nor will he be sold before the close of the transfer window on Friday.
According to the Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson, the Theo Walcott saga (is it an official saga yet?) is about to get weird. Wilson reports that manager Arsene Wenger met with the Arsenal winger earlier today, and the pow-wow ended with the decision being made that Walcott would not be sold before Friday's transfer deadline, but that he also would not sign a new deal before the window closes.
In other words, the player is to be left in limbo, at least for the time being.
The BBC's Ben Smith reports the same information, and Wilson goes into more depth on the Telegraph website. Wenger is wary about allowing players to enter the final year of a contract unsigned, as we all know, but he evidently was encouraged by his discussions with Walcott. The player, to his credit, has told the club that while he is not happy with the contract offer currently on the table, he would prefer to stay at Arsenal, even with interest from clubs like Liverpool and Manchester City.
This is encouraging if, like me, you think Walcott is a good young player who still has room to grow, and would prefer to keep a player who has had some success at Arsenal rather than having to find yet another new first choice player to replace a departing starter. It certainly doesn't mean he will sign - honestly, it doesn't even mean Walcott won't be sold before Friday, as these deals can change drastically in a very short amount of time.
But while the fact that Walcott isn't definitely out is positive, it opens a whole host of new problems. Will he be negotiating during the season, a process that could very well cause undue distractions (like people asking him if the negotiations are distracting him, mostly)? Is there a chance of Walcott's sale just being postponed until January? What happens if he scores ten goals in the next eight games and demands £150k/week? What happens if he's not signed by May and leaves on a Bosman?
This is a risky move, but honestly, I think it's the right one for the time being.