at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
London – Theo Walcott and Bacary Sagna have been omitted from Arsenal’s official 2013 calendar, fuelling speculation they will become the next big-name players to leave the club.
Walcott, who had been on the front cover in each of the previous four calendars, is stalling on a new five-year deal worth £75,000 a week. Meanwhile, Sagna’s future remains far from certain as he enters the final 18 months of his contract.
On Tuesday manager Arsene Wenger said the club had started talks with the France full back. “We are hopeful. He had some big injury issues but with him and (Carl) Jenkinson, you need two players and we want to keep them,” he said.
But Inter Milan want to sign the right back with Arsenal ready to listen to offers for Sagna next summer if a new deal cannot be agreed.
It is the absence of Walcott from the calendar that will cause the biggest stir given his status as one of Arsenal’s poster boys.
Thomas Vermaelen, Mikel Arteta, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Olivier Giroud, Lukas Podolski, Wojciech Szczesny, Aaron Ramsey, Andre Santos, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla and Per Mertesacker have all been included. In September, the club sent out ‘Junior Gunner’ membership packs with Robin van Persie on the front, despite the fact he left the club in August, causing major discontent among fans.
Arsenal on Tuesday insisted the omission of Walcott and Sagna from the calendar bears no indication over their futures.
Walcott, 23, is hoping for an instant recall for tonight’s clash against Everton after recovering from a shoulder injury with Arsenal wanting to bounce back from Saturday’s disappointing goalless draw at Aston Villa.
Wenger was heckled by his own supporters at Villa Park, but the 63-year-old insists he is unfazed by the disgruntled fans.
“That some fans are not happy when you play 0-0 at Aston Villa, I can understand because I am not happy,” he said.
“But look, I am not worried about me. I am worried about the club and the team, and to do the best for the club and the team.
“I think I have always shown my 100 per cent commitment and loyalty to this club. I can only give my best and let people judge. The criticism does not hurt at all.”– Daily Mail