London - Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has given Theo Walcott the next 48 hours to decide whether he wants to sign a new five-year contract worth £75 000 per week - or be sold.
Walcott, 23, could even be ditched before the close of the transfer window on Friday, with Manchester City and Liverpool asking to be kept informed. The north London club will demand a £12million fee.
If Walcott turns down the contract offer, Arsenal have a familiar choice to make - sell him now or risk losing him on a free transfer next summer.
Sportsmail revealed on Friday how the forward’s agent held formal talks over a contract extension at the club’s London Colney HQ.
However, Walcott, who is in the final 12 months of his deal, is yet to sign a contract extension and, while negotiations are ongoing, it is looking increasingly unlikely that he will put pen to paper.
Last night it appeared he was on the brink of turning down the £20m contract offer. Liverpool and City, whose move for Scott Sinclair was on the rocks last night, are pondering a last minute move. Walcott was only on the bench for Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Stoke and it is understood that if he goes, academy prospect Serge Gnabry, 17, will be fast-tracked into the senior squad.
As it stands, Walcott could sign a pre-contract with a foreign club in January, then leave for nothing next summer. Meanwhile, Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has held meetings with chief scout Steve Rowley to target reinforcements. The capture of a versatile defender and defensive midfielder are priorities. Montpellier captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Swansea’s Angel Rangel are defensive options, with Yann M’Vila (Rennes) and Etienne Capoue (Toulouse) on the midfield list. Nicklas Bendtner is in talks over a £5m move to AC Milan.