Wenger: No January Walcott sale
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger appears ready to risk losing Theo Walcott for nothing next summer after declaring he won't be sold in January.
Wenger ruled out any prospect of cashing in on Walcott in the new year if the deadlock over the 23-year-old's contract talks was not broken before the end of next month.
Arsenal appeared to come close to entertaining bids for Walcott when negotiations over a new deal - to replace the one that expires next summer - stalled during the last transfer window.
And despite having previously set a deadline of the end of 2012 for an agreement to be reached, Wenger insisted after Saturday's 5-2 north London derby thrashing of Tottenham that Walcott was going nowhere in January.
Asked if the winger would be sold if the impasse continued into 2013, Wenger said simply: "No."
Pressed on whether Walcott would see out the season at Arsenal come what may, he replied: "Yes."
Wenger's revelation opened up the possibility of Walcott signing a pre-contract agreement with a rival club, Liverpool and Manchester City having both been linked him.
The Arsenal boss remained confident of a deal being reached before then.
Asked if talks were closer to bearing fruit, he joked: "If I listen to you then every day it gets more expensive.
"We continue in a positive way. I told you many times we have until the end of December to sort this out."
Jack Wilshere, Walcott's team-mate for both club and country, does not want to see another big name player quit the Emirates Stadium.
"He is an English lad and great to have around the dressing room," the midfielder said.
"But that is up to him, the boss and the board. They are going to do whatever they are going to do. I hope he signs.
"We all know what Theo brings to the team. He has got pace, he can go behind and his movement and timing of the runs is probably the best around.
"He play anywhere - up front, right, left, central.
"He wants to play down the middle, so I think he will get his chance - he will just have to be patient."
Walcott himself claimed he was prepared to do that after reiterating he saw his long-term future up front.
It is an assurance of more playing time as a striker - as much as a bigger salary - that the player is said to be seeking.
And despite being made to wait until the 86th minute yesterday to show what he could do in the position, he still managed to rack up his fifth goal in as many games.
Wenger said: "It is always good when you can play everywhere."
He pointed out Olivier Giroud could hold the ball up in a way Walcott "will not be capable to do" but added: "He is a different type of player but he can play up front, and he can play up front with Giroud as well.
"I think he has found a good mixture and good positional play on the wing."
Arsenal ultimately romped to victory yesterday but it could have been so different had Emmanuel Adebayor not got himself sent off after putting Tottenham 1-0 up.
The Gunners even looked nervy at 4-2 ahead, having won just one of their previous six games, with their last outing seeing them blow a 2-0 lead to draw 3-3 with Fulham.
"We missed a penalty n the last second against Fulham," Wenger said.
"That had an effect on the game. You could see that when we were 4-2 up."
He added: "Sometimes, when you lose games, you do not come back straight away and win.
"You go through one or two draws and then you win. Then you are back. This result will be tremendous for us."
After helping Arsenal leapfrog Spurs into sixth place, Wilshere said: "We knew we couldn't do anything else than win.
"A draw wouldn't have been good enough.
"We got the three points and in terms of the league table it was vital that we did, because we are a bit far behind at the moment."
Last season's 5-2 derby win from 2-0 down helped Arsenal beat Tottenham to third place in the league and secure Champions League qualification at their arch rivals' expense.
Wilshere added: "Last year, beating them was a turning point and hopefully we can keep that going."