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Walcott ends Arsenal contract standoff by signing new deal

Associated Press

1/18/2013 11:08:56 AM

LONDON -- Theo Walcott's drawn-out contract standoff with Arsenal ended Friday with the signing of a lucrative new contract.

The England forward could have left the club for free at the end of the season, but has agreed to a 3 1/2-year deal that sees his salary rise by two-thirds to about 100,000 pounds ($160,000) a week.

"I have made it clear from the start that I wanted to stay at Arsenal, so I am pleased we have agreed a deal that everyone is happy with," Walcott said. "What is important now is for the team to realize its potential and win trophies."

Arsenal has not won a trophy since 2005, the year before Walcott joined from Southampton.

The uncertainty over Walcott's future has coincided with the Gunners struggling in the Premier League, with the team currently sixth.

"Theo's contract extension now gives us a strong nucleus of ambitious young players who have committed to the club and want to be successful with us as a group," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

Walcott has been granted his wish in recent matches to play as a centre forward, and he is Arsenal's leading scorer this season with 14 goals.

"He joined us as a 16-year-old and since then has developed very well to become an extremely important player for both Arsenal and England," Wenger said. "Theo is a strong player and also a great person, and the combination of his ability and pace always make him such a valuable asset either from the flanks or down the middle."

Arsenal's hopes of a trophy this season seem to rest with the FA Cup and Champions League, where the team faces Bayern Munich in the last 16 next month.