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Jan 11, 2013

Wenger upbeat over Walcott

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes his club are closing in on “a happy conclusion” in their contract negotiations with Theo Walcott, but he played down talk of new signings during the January window.

Arsene Wenger, Theo Walcott
Theo Walcott looks likely to sign a new deal but there may not be any new arrivals this month

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Talks with Walcott have dragged on for some time, but Wenger has given his broadest hint yet that his 23-year-old forward is ready to commit his future to Arsenal.

“We are on a good road,” Wenger said when asked about the latest developments on contract talks with Walcott’s representatives. “In this situation, as long as nothing is signed, you are cautious. I am optimistic that we will come to a happy conclusion. I was optimistic last week, but I am a bit more optimistic this week.”

Wenger confirmed he expects Walcott to sign a new Arsenal contract by the end of this month and insisted the former Southampton trainee is not demanding a central striking role before he signs a new deal.

“I can see Theo playing more up front but he never made it a condition to sign or not,” Wenger said. “He is happy to play on the flank as well. I see him playing more up front.”

The Arsenal boss also dampened expectations that he is ready to splash the cash to sign new players by the end of this month, backtracking somewhat on his previous suggestion he would “be active” in player recruitment during this window.

Wenger brushed off suggestions that he was in the running to sign Alvaro Negredo from Sevilla and hinted that he is content with the balance of his squad and may struggle to improve it before the month is out.

“We have two targets,” he added. “The first is to get the players who are inside the club signed up and the second is to get our injuries back. We have (Tomas) Rosicky available again now, (Abou) Diaby is available again and if you look at our squad it is quite a complete squad.

“We still work on the transfer market, of course, but we do not want to bring in average (players). We only want to bring in exceptional players and, at the moment, we have not found them. At the moment, nobody can leave unless we buy somebody. Our focus is to keep everybody. In every position we have two players. Three is too many and one is not enough.”

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