Arsenal opened fresh contract talks with Theo Walcott

Arsenal opened fresh contract talks with Theo Walcott as manager Arsene Wenger ramped up his attempts to avoid watching yet another star player slip through his grasp.

‘Negotiations continue. At the moment not directly with me, but we try to sort it out one way or the other,’ said Wenger.

‘We want to extend his contract and keep him at the club — but you need not only our desire. His desire is also right, he wants to stay and we need to find an agreement.’

Walcott’s representatives arrived at Arsenal’s London Colney HQ for formal talks with club officials.

The discussions represent a significant step in the Gunners’ attempts to tie the 23-year-old to a new long-term contract.

And Arsenal chiefs are growing increasingly confident that Walcott will put pen-to-paper on fresh terms — understood to be a five-year contract worth in excess of £70,000 per week.

Walcott currently earns in the region of £55,000 per week.

Arsenal want Walcott’s new contract sorted as quickly as possible, with sources claiming an agreement could even be reached by next week.