Charlie Nicholas is “scared” that Theo Walcott would be a huge hit at Manchester United, Liverpool or Chelsea if he were to leave Arsenal and hopes the winger stays at the Emirates Stadium.
The 27-year-old forward has not made Arsene Wenger’s starting line-up since their 3-2 defeat to Manchester United at the end of February, playing just 15 minutes, in total, in back-to-back draws with West Ham and Crystal Palace.
That lack of playing time has brought both Walcott’s Arsenal future and his chances of making England’s Euro 2016 squad into question – while Wednesday morning’s papers suggested Wenger was willing to let the player leave in a shake-up of his squad.
But Gunners legend Nicholas convinced the club would regret letting him go.
The Soccer Saturday pundit told Sky Sports: “There has to be suitors looking at him. I don’t see why Manchester United and Liverpool wouldn’t be interested.
“Theo has the pace that people will be interested in and Chelsea might also be looking at him if they’re considering letting Eden Hazard go.
“I think if the money was there, Arsene would sell him but I would not. It scares me that he could go to another club and deliver.”
Nicholas, who made 184 appearances for Arsenal, believes Wenger can still get more out of the forward, who has only scored 10 goals or more once since arriving in 2006.
He added: “I do believe he has it in him to score 20+ goals in a season. Arsene needs to change something for next season and he clearly needs to change the way he uses Walcott if he’s going to get the best out of him.
“Theo is too nice though and I’d like to think he would have a good honest row with Arsene every now and again and ask him what he needs to do to prove himself.”
Fellow Soccer Saturday pundit Matt Le Tissier agrees that Walcott will be looking to move this summer – and he encouraged him to consider clubs who won’t be playing in the Champions League.
He told Sky Sports: “It’s not looking great for him right now and for the sake of his career he needs to be somewhere he’s going to play every week.
“I think he’s in real danger of missing out on the Euros, I really do, and if he wants to be a first-choice striker he needs to be looking at one of the teams outside the Champions League challengers to have that guaranteed. I’d happily have him back at Southampton.
“He’s obviously slipped down the pecking order at Arsenal. Alex Iwobi is now starting and Joel Campbell has also been picked ahead of him, so he’s got to be asking questions.”