Speculation is rife that Arsenal are ready to test Liverpool's resolve by offering Theo Walcott plus £8m to prize Raheem Sterling in the January transfer window, with the two England internationals yet to sign new contracts with their respective clubs. Though Reds manager Brendan Rodgers has moved to play down any suggestion that Sterling will leave Anfield, could the possibility of bringing in a player of Walcott's quality change his mind? talkSPORT compare the wingers and ask how a swap could benefit both clubs...
What's the latest?
Theo Walcott continued his good form this season with an assist and a goal in the north London derby at the weekend, but his manager Arsene Wenger still hasn't managed to tie him to a new contract, increasing speculation he could leave in January. A swap with Liverpool for Raheem Sterling is one potential solution being mooted after the youngster hastily deleted a post on Twitter claiming he was going to sign a new contract at Anfield, suggesting his advisors may have other ideas. Brendan Rodgers has made it clear that he doesn't want to lose Sterling, but if Walcott, a player he is thought to be interested in signing, becomes available, it could prove a real test of Rodgers' determination. Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, is said to be an admirer of 17-year-old Sterling.
How a deal could work for both clubs
The obvious risk for Arsenal at the moment is that Walcott could walk for free in the summer, yet despite Wenger claiming he is willing to hold on to the 23-year-old until his deal expires, the Frenchman is contradicting himself after previously claiming his decision to sell Robin Van Persie to Man United in the summer was influenced by the fear that the Dutch striker could leave for nothing. Raheem Sterling is the kind of player Wenger has made a habit of signing in his career: young, extremely skilled and with huge potential, but he also has the added bonus of Premier League experience, so a swap deal may tempt the Gunners boss.
It's easy to see why Brendan Rodgers would rather keep Raheem Sterling at Liverpool than lose him to another team. Just shy of 18, the winger has shown a brilliant capacity to adapt to the rigorous demands of the Premier League and has even gained vital European experience with the Reds. That being said, Sterling is still one for the future, and with Theo Walcott in the form of his career, the addition of a player in his prime could give Liverpool a much needed injection of quality and maybe enough to push on for a top four finish. It's too early to jump to conclusions on Sterling, though as as good as he is, could equally fail to fulfill his potential as is often the case with promising youngsters. One solution for Liverpool could be to write a buy back clause into the deal, which would allow the Reds to go back for Sterling at a later date, preying on Arsenal's constant desire to make money. However, in that scenario it's hard to see how the Gunners would benefit and may be more inclined to simply sell Walcott in January and purchase a more established player as his replacement.
Ultimately, Arsene Wenger and Brendan Rodgers would both need to be 100 per cent sure that swapping the players is the right move and they will not le left with any regrets should they lose their respective stars. It's unlikely, but not impossible.
What is being said?
"I would be happy to see Theo Walcott move to Anfield. He is still only 23 and is getting better. He comes from a Liverpool-supporting family and would be welcomed by the fans.”
- Liverpool legend John Aldridge.
“It’s always important to keep your best players but if selling Walcott should happen, we’ll replace him with someone, another big name.”
- Arsene Wenger.
Arsenal and Liverpool supporters, would you entertain the idea of a Walcott/Sterling swap deal? Comment below and have your say...