ARSENAL boss Arsene Wenger believes the Gunners are close to agreeing a contract extension with England forward Theo Walcott.
Walcott, who has a year to run on his existing deal, bagged Arsenal’s second-half clincher as they defeated German side Wolfsburg 1-0 to lift the Emirates Cup yesterday.
The north London club have been linked with a move to bolster their frontline options during the close season, but Wenger believes Walcott can score the weight of goals necessary to lessen the need for a new striker.
“Not yet but we’re getting closer and closer. Hopefully we can finalise it vey soon,” said Wenger, when asked if Walcott had signed a new contract.
He added: “Another goal for Theo and I’m not surprised by that because I played him through the middle. I’ve always said that he’s a goalscorer because he has the movement, he has the timing of the run, the speed for the finishing and he has an eye for taking his chances at the right moments. I believe Theo will score goals.”
Walcott’s winner five minutes after half-time followed an incisive pass from 17-year-old forward Jeff Reine-Adelaide, a player Wenger has confirmed will remain at the club next term rather than be sent out on loan.
“He looks promising but he needs to work with us for a year in the first team,” added Wenger. “To be an adult, to play for the under-21s and to develop. There is fantastic potential there but he will stay with us.”
Fellow Premier League side Crystal Palace, meanwhile, lost 2-0 to Sporting Lisbon in the final of the Cape Town Cup as Colombia’s Freddy Montero netted twice off the bench.
“I was pleased with everything but the result,” said Palace manager Alan Pardew.
“It was a good test for the players and played at a high level.
“I would say it was the same level as a Europa League game and having that opportunity before the start of the season means I’m delighted in terms of our preparation.”
Newcastle United are set to continue their summer spending spree after agreeing a deal to sign Anderlecht defender Chancel Mbemba, for a fee in region of £8m.
DR Congo international Mbemba’s move to Tyneside is subject to the granting of a work permit, having agreed personal terms and completed his medical at St James’s Park. The 20-year-old, currently under investigation by world governing body Fifa because of discrepancies over his age, would be Newcastle’s third capture of the summer behind midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.