Martin Keown says Wenger is making Walcott feel special
Martin Keown believes that Arsenal are "certain" to bring in new faces after Theo Walcott's future has been finalised, something which is a necessity as Arsenal look to challenge for honours and end a trophy drought dating back to 2005.
Keown has also backed Arsene Wenger's stance that the club will not look to bring in reinforcements during the January transfer window until Walcott's contract situation is resolved.
"I think [Wenger] is just being intelligent, if you are a player at a club you want to feel pretty special and [Walcott] is pretty special at the moment," Keown told ESPN. "He is a priority at the football club, they've nurtured this player now for the last seven years from a boy to a man and he wants to make sure that he feels extra special.
"He doesn't want to block his path once he signs that contract - once that is done though it is up to the manager to look outside the club and see if he wants to bring anybody else in and I feel certain that they will do that because they continue to keep looking to buy the best players they can to make them successful.
"They haven't won anything for a little while now so that indicates that the players need to improve, he has lost very good players also but he will be looking to buy players in the future. You can be certain of that."
Walcott rejected a contract reportedly worth £75,000-a-week as he attempted to negotiate a deal in the region of £100,000-a-week, sparking the interest of a number of Arsenal's Premier League rivals. Keown, though, insists it is important to the Gunners' hopes of progression that they hold onto their top young stars.
"It is imperative that they keep hold of Walcott," he said. "Theo has been on that cycle of development at Arsenal, working intensively with the coaches and you want to retain those players at the end of it otherwise you will be losing somebody just as they are starting to come to fruition - which he is.
"It's very important for the future, with him being English and being part of that core of players [along with Aaron Ramsey, Kieron Gibbs, Carl Jenkinson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere] that [Wenger] is trying to keep. They've just simply got to keep him."
Keown believes Arsenal's future is in safe hands under Wenger and assistant manager Steve Bould going forward. Wenger's current contract expires in 2014, and with increasing fan pressure because of the club's failure to win titles it remains unclear if it will be extended.
But the former Gunners defender is in no doubt that the framework is being laid for a successful future.
"Steve Bould has been there now for ten years working with the youth team and Arsene Wenger is a fantastic person to work with so I see that as being almost a perfect marriage," he said.
"It's just about getting the right balance on the coaching side and within the team. The future looks secure for Arsenal."
Martin Keown was speaking ahead of ESPN's live and exclusive coverage of Swansea v Arsenal in the FA Cup 3rd round at 1.00pm on Sunday 6th January. ESPN, in conjunction with Budweiser, is searching for fans' all-time favourite FA Cup moments. Visit espn.co.uk/facuppoll