Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed that Theo Walcott’s Euro 2016 heartache has inspired him to be a better player this season.
Walcott missed out on Roy Hodgson’s squad for the European Championship in the summer after losing his place in Wenger’s starting line-up last campaign.
Rumours in the summer transfer window indicated he could be on his way out of the Emirates Stadium with West Ham one of the clubs thought to be interested in the winger.
Walcott was outstanding in the Gunners 3-0 victory over London rivals Chelsea on Saturday and he looks a different player now he has been moved back out to his more familiar right wing position.
“I said many times at the start of the season that we would see a different Theo Walcott,” Wenger said. “I could see he made a decision and sticks to it.
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— Theo Walcott (@theowalcott) September 24, 2016
“I spoke to him about the disappointment of not going with England. He is a special case. He went at 16 to the World Cup. We are now at 2016 and he hasn’t been to another World Cup.
“He has matured, when a player survives this type of disappointment from what was promised for him at 16, the way he dealt with the situation, I always felt there was something special in this guy.
“I think he used to be 90 per cent forward and 10 per cent defending. Today he is 50-50. He does the job both ways and he does it both ways with commitment. And I always felt there is character and intelligence in this boy. He is a guy with a good assessment of his performances and qualities.”