Walcott waits for Arsenal exit after rejecting new contract

ARSENAL are facing the loss of a third key player this summer after England winger Theo Walcott rejected the latest contract offer from the Gunners.

Manchester City are thought to be ready to bid for the 23-year-old, with Arsene Wenger forced to sell a player he signed as a teenager or risk losing him for free next year.

Liverpool are also believed to have monitored Walcott’s stuttering contract negotiations, which have caused increasing consternation at Emirates Stadium. The revelation that he has snubbed Arsenal’s most recent offer is likely to flush out interest from potential suitors, with just three days until the transfer window closes on Friday at 11pm.

Wenger has already reluctantly sold captain and last season’s Premier League top scorer Robin van Persie to Manchester United for £24m, after the Dutchman made it clear he would not extend a contract due to expire next summer.

The Gunners boss has also despatched midfielder Alex Song to Barcelona, although he sold the Cameroon international rather more willingly than Van Persie. Song was contracted until 2015 but agitated for a move once Barca showed interest.

The loss of Walcott would be yet another blow to Arsenal’s reputation for holding onto star names, having seen arguably their two best players of the 2010/2011 season, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, depart 12 months ago. Wenger persuaded Walcott to shun interest from big-spending Chelsea when he left Southampton six years ago, aged just 16, in a deal that cost £9m.