Wenger reveals Walcott 'urgency'
Arsene Wenger hopes Arsenal will not have to cash in on contract rebel Theo Walcott during the January transfer window.
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18. Theo Walcott
The England forward, fit again from a chest injury suffered on international duty against San Marino, netted a hat-trick in the Gunners' stunning 7-5 Capital One Cup win at Reading in midweek.
It was a rare start for the 23-year-old, who has been restricted to mainly substitute appearances this season.
Walcott's current deal expires next summer, with his representatives and the club still some distance apart over wages and Walcott also expressing concerns over opportunities in his preferred central role.
If no deal can be brokered before January, Walcott would be able to negotiate a potentially lucrative pre-contract agreement with a foreign club or just hold firm and walk away on a Bosman free.
Wenger, though, would prefer the situation not to get to that point.
Asked if Arsenal would have to sell Walcott were no new deal signed by the start of 2013, Wenger said: "I would not like to. I have not even thought about that, because at the moment I think we will still manage to make a deal with him."
The Gunners boss added: "There is urgency (on talks).
"We want to sort it out before Christmas, one way or the other."
Wenger is in no doubt Walcott will eventually be deployed in his preferred attacking role, as he was to devastating effect at Reading, but called for patience.
"I always said it is important that he plays in the right position and that certainly would be through the middle in the future, he showed that again on Tuesday night," Wenger continued.
"The positions on the flanks are changing, you need to do a lot of defending. He should be dedicated more to offensive work."
Wenger added: "I have always come out publicly and said that I see him in the future through the middle as well. He loves to score goals, Theo.
"He has good pace, (makes) excellent, intelligent runs, and what has changed with Theo is he's (become) a very good finisher."
Arsenal head to Germany for a Champions League tie against Schalke on Tuesday night, so Wenger will take that into consideration ahead of Saturday's Barclays Premier League trip to Manchester United, where they were thrashed 8-2 last August.
Winger Gervinho is expected to be out for around three weeks with an ankle problem, while goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, full-back Kieran Gibbs and midfielder Abou Diaby remain unavailable.
The Gunners are likely to come up against former captain Robin van Persie for the first time on Saturday since his £24million summer transfer.
The Dutch forward could be in for a hard time from the travelling support, but Wenger feels Arsenal fans should remember the forward's contribution during his eight seasons at the club, scoring 132 goals - 37 of which came last season to help secure third place in the Barclays Premier League.
"I hope it is a respectful one because he has played for us for eight years, he has done very well for us," said Wenger.
"You want him to be respected.
"We campaign against discrimination, it was still the case last week so why should it not be the case this week?"