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Sign or be sold: Wenger hints that Walcott could be available in January
Liverpool will bid for winger who hasn't started for Arsenal since rejecting a new £75k per week deal, while City and Chelsea fancy him on a Bosman
Arsene Wenger has given Theo Walcott a two-month ultimatum to sign a new deal - or risk being sold in January.
Walcott is being frozen out at Arsenal, and will not start at Manchester City on Sunday as his contract stand-off drags on.
It will increase the likelihood of Walcott leaving Arsenal - Liverpool will make an offer in the winter window, Manchester City are lining up a mega-bucks contract for a summer Bosman and Chelsea also fancy him.
Walcott has not started a game for Arsenal since stalling on a £75,000-a-week contract offer, and Gunners manager Wenger admits that the next couple of months will be crucial and will decide the player's future.
"I haven't picked him, it's true, and it's quite a good question," said the Frenchman. "I still hope to sign him and the next two months will be vital because, after that, the longer this situation lasts the more difficult it is.
"Let's hope we can find a solution in the next two months but the fact he doesn't play regularly at the moment is right, but it's not necessarily linked with his contract situation."
Wenger insisted Arsenal can afford to go beyond January, but the Mirror understands Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers will bid - and that any offer is likely to be entertained by the Gunners, rather than the alternative of potentially losing him for free.
City and Chelsea would rather wait, and a better personal package is likely to be on offer if Walcott is a free agent next summer.
When pressed on whether Arsenal would sell in January, Wenger said: "It will depend on the needs of the team and the club. We can afford to go to the end (of the contract) if needed.
"No player is happy when he doesn't play.
"At the moment, Koscielny doesn't play. He's just extended his contract and still doesn't play because the defence is doing well.
"That's only temporary because by the end of the season they will all play."