Champions League

Wenger: Walcott not just about cash

Theo Walcott relaxes during an Arsenal training session on Thursday.
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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger does not feel Theo Walcott's future will come down to a simple matter of money.

The 23-year-old forward will be out of contract in the summer, and has been in excellent goalscoring form for the Gunners after switching to his preferred central striker role and grabbing a hat-trick against Newcastle.

Walcott turned down one offer of a new deal - reported to be worth £75,000 a week - in the summer and has so far failed to reach an agreement as the player looks for terms closer to £100,000.

However, Wenger feels the continuing negotiations can see a positive conclusion to the saga.

Speaking at a press conference this morning ahead of Sunday's FA Cup third-round tie at Swansea, Wenger said: "We are talking. Yes [I am encouraged by the talks].

"It is very difficult to be predictable in this kind of situation, but I always said that our desire is there to do it as quickly as possible. We are ready to do it."

Wenger added: "I only speak for our side, and my side is that we want him to stay here.

"Of course I don't want to speak much more about that situation because it can be misinterpreted and I don't think he is only interested by money. I don't believe that."

Arsenal are expected to move in the transfer market during January, with reports of a £10million bid tabled for Atletico Madrid striker Adrian Lopez.

Fringe players like Morocco forward Marouane Chamakh, French centre-half Sebastien Squillaci and Swiss defender Johan Djourou - who is said to be interesting German side Hannover - are all likely to be offloaded.

Wenger, though, maintains Arsenal must concentrate on the players they have in the first team now, rather than worrying about who might be coming in or going out.

"First of all we have to make sure the players who are here stay here, after we look outside," he said.

"Let's first try to finalise with Theo Walcott and after if we need something else we will go somewhere else, but our first priority is that.

"The most important players for us are those who are here. Those who are on the transfer market will not help us win the games."

Wenger added there was "no news" on the future of Andrey Arshavin, who has been linked with both Reading and Paris St Germain, but revealed he expected some departures.

"Squillaci, if he finds a club, he will certainly go. Djourou might go somewhere as well, that will be decided in the next 48 to 72 hours," said the Arsenal manager.

Wenger expects to take a full squad to Swansea.

He said: "Everybody is available because we have [Abou] Diaby and [Andre] Santos coming back into full training. They are not completely match-fit, but they are back."

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