England international forward Theo Walcott has finally put pen to paper on a new three-and-a-half year, £100,000-a-week contract with Arsenal, ending speculation about his immediate future at the club, Sky Sports understands.
Walcott, 23, has been in fine form for the Gunners this season, with 14 goals — a career best — and nine assists to his name in all competitions.
The 23-year-old winger has made 244 senior appearances, scoring 56 goals, since joining the Gunners from Southampton in 2006.
Walcott’s contract was due to expire at the end of the season, with a bevy of English Premier League clubs reportedly keen on signing him via free transfer in the summer.
According to reports, Chelsea and Manchester United were the favourites to land the Gunners ace, who was also attracting interest from a few foreign clubs.
However, luckily for Arsenal, a bidding war did not ensue.
“I am very happy to have signed a new contract here at Arsenal,” said Walcott.
“Thanks to everyone for their continued support, especially the manager, everyone at the club and most importantly the fans.
“I have made it clear from the start that I wanted to stay at Arsenal so I am pleased we have agreed a deal that everyone is happy with. What’s important now is for the team to realise its potential and win trophies.”
Last month, Arsenal agreed to long-term contract extensions with Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Carl Jenkinson, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs, making Walcott the Gunners’ sixth player to ink a new long-term deal at the Emirates Stadium this season.
Macheda closing in on Stuttgart loan
Manchester United striker Federico Macheda is on the verge of joining Bundesliga outfit VfB Stuttgart on loan with the option to make the switch permanent amid reported interest from clubs in Italy and Spain, according to ESPN Soccernet.
Macheda, 21, has been relegated to the reserves for much of the 2012-13 season, with Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Javier “El Chicharito” Hernandez ahead of him in the pecking order at Old Trafford.
In fact, even newcomer Nick Powell, 18, seems to be ahead of the Italian on Sir Alex Ferguson’s depth chart.
Macheda has already had two disappointing loan spells at Sampdoria and Queens Park Rangers while at United, but he is confident that he can do well the next time around.
“I had very bad luck with the loans but I think it helped me a lot,” the Italy Under-21 international told the club’s official website.
“I think it helped me to gain experience in general. If I go out again on loan, I’m sure I will do well.
“I have been away two times already and, if it happens again, I’d look forward to getting playing time because maybe I made some mistakes but now I understand. I will take the chances I will have.”
The 21-year-old has failed to live up to outrageous expectations since netting an injury-time winner — an absolute screamer may I add — on his club debut, as a 17-year-old, against Aston Villa on 5 April 2009.
Schlupp, 20, is a versatile player who can feature in attack or as a left-back.
The 20-year-old is under contract at Leicester City until 2015, but could potentially earn himself a move to Old Trafford in the summer should he impress while on trial with United.