Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger expressed his delight on Saturday after forward Theo Walcott agreed to a three-and-a-half year extension of his contract with Arsenal.

“He joined us as a 16-year-old and since then has developed very well to become an extremely important player for both Arsenal and England,” Wenger said.

“Theo is a strong player and also a great person and the combination of his ability and pace always make him such a valuable asset either from the flanks or down the middle.

“Theo’s contract extension now gives us a strong nucleus of ambitious young players who have committed to the club and want to be successful with us as a group.” Walcott’s future had been doubt as negotiations stalled. He would have become a free agent at the end of the season.

“I am very happy to have signed a new contract here at Arsenal.

Thanks to everyone for their continued support, especially the manager, everyone at the club and most importantly the fans,” Walcott said on Arsenal’s website.

“I have made it clear from the start that I wanted to stay at Arsenal, so I am pleased we have agreed a deal that everyone is happy with,” he said.

“What is important now is for the team to realise its potential and win trophies.”

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