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SPORTS

Theo Walcott will sign new long-term Arsenal contract

FOOTBALL By - | January 18th 2013

Theo Walcott is on the verge of ending speculation about his future by signing a new long-term contract with Arsenal.

The 23-year-old England forward, who is in the final six months of his deal, rejected a five-year offer worth £75,000 a week in August.

But agreements have now been reached between Arsenal and their top scorer, who could put pen to paper on Friday if legal formalities can be completed.Arsenal, who face Chelsea on Sunday, are set to confirm the news next week.

Talks stalled after Walcott turned down Arsenal's summer proposal and it is only in the last two weeks that meaningful progress has been made.Arsenal lawyers and the player's advisors spent all of Thursday in negotiations before agreeing on most issues by 19:00 GMT.

The club had tabled a five-year contract worth a reported £90,000-a-week  with a signing-on bonus worth around £3m.

Walcott favoured a three-and-a-half year deal but common ground has been found on that, and also on the complex area of image rights.

The Southampton academy graduate was upset with manager Arsene Wenger's decision to use him mainly as a substitute earlier in the season, but Walcott has since regained a regular starting place.

He has also been given opportunities in his favoured central striker position, and his tally this season stands at 14 goals in 24 games.

This will bring an end to another protracted contract saga involving the Gunners, but this time they are keeping their player.

Last summer Arsenal lost Robin van Persie to Manchester United as he entered the last year of his deal, and in 2011 they sold Samir Nasri to Manchester City when he was in the same situation.

Mathieu Flamini was in an identical position to Walcott in 2008, and he chose to see out his final six months before joining AC Milan.

Arsenal also saw Cesc Fabregas move to Barcelona following lengthy speculation, although the Spaniard had longer left on his contract.

But Walcott will not to follow suit, instead committing his future to the team who signed him from Southampton as a 16-year-old in 2006.

Arsenal rebuffed a bid for him from Manchester City towards the end of the summer 2012 transfer window, while Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United had also expressed an interest.

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