Southampton are preparing a January swoop for Arsenal fringe man Theo Walcott as they head to market with a swollen transfer kitty after the £75m sale of Virgil van Dijk to Liverpool.
The Saints centre-back will leave St Mary's Stadium and join up with the Reds officially on New Year's Day, when the winter transfer window opens, and it is thought the south coast side are keen to bolster their squad quickly with the cash.
“If they want to go to the World Cup then they need to leave their clubs”#Arsenal’s Theo Walcott and #LFC’s Daniel Sturridge are both linked with January moves to #SaintsFC.— The Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast (@SportsBreakfast) December 29, 2017
Ray Wilkins says both should welcome a move to St. Mary’s... pic.twitter.com/CaO18A3a5t
The Mirror report that the Gunners attacker is a high priority on boss Mauricio Pellegrino's transfer wish list, and following the club's sudden influx of funds, they are willing to match the 28-year-old's £140k-per-week wages in order to secure the deal.
Walcott had become Southampton's youngest ever player when he left to join Arsenal in January 2006 for around £12m after graduating from the Saints' academy, and the current 14th-place Premier League outfit are hoping they can persuade the pacy forward to make his return next month.
Liverpool signings directly from Southampton— Crippy Cooke (@CrippyCooke) December 27, 2017
Rickie Lambert - £5m
Adam Lallana - £28m
Dejan Lovren - £23m
Nathaniel Clyne - £16m
Sadio Mane - £37m
Virgil van Dijk - £75m?
Total 💰 £184m
At what point do #LFC just poach #SaintsFC's scouting team? pic.twitter.com/asJmYzFkP4
It is thought that the south coast side are enquiring on the availability of the England international, and would be open to either a permanent or loan deal in January.
“Obviously, we don’t have this money to go to the market to bring the best players in the world, but we have got our targets that we want to bring in with this money”, Pellegrino said.
“We were (the board) talking about the couple of targets that we got. I would like to bring a couple of players minimum and we have to work for this.”
However, whether Gunners boss Arsene Wenger will be willing to allow his versatile squad player to depart is yet to be seen, with a congested upcoming fixture list and regular super-sub Olivier Giroud sidelined for up to six weeks two obstacles in the potential switch.
Another issue for Southampton in their pursuit of Walcott could be the lure of other clubs, with both West Ham and Everton both also said to be monitoring the Arsenal man.