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How Southampton can benefit from the emotional return of their boyhood star who completes a full circle

How Southampton can benefit from emotional Theo Walcott return

According to The Guardian, Southampton have secured the services of former academy graduate Theo Walcott on a season-long loan deal from Premier League rivals Everton.

The deal marks the completion of a full circle in Walcott’s career and an emotional return to St. Mary’s 14 years after he left his boyhood club to join Arsenal back in January 2006. The England international has thanked everyone involved to make the move a success, emphasizing that Southampton will always hold a special place in his heart. (h/t Guardian)

Profile

Very much a household name in English football, Theo Walcott doesn’t require much of an introduction to the followers of the beautiful game across the globe. The fleet-footed winger rose through the youth ranks of Southampton and became the club’s youngest debutant at the age of just 16 before departing for Arsenal in 2006. 

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Theo Walcott has joined Southampton on a season-long loan deal from Everton (Getty Images)

Walcott came through the door at Arsenal as an exciting prospect and was gradually transformed into one of the most devastating wingers in the Premier League by the charismatic Arsene Wenger.

The Stanmore-born attacker went on to plunder an astonishing 108 goals and 78 assists in 398 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions, winning two FA Cup titles over the course of 12 illustrious years in North London.

The 31-year-old joined Everton in a £20million deal back in January 2018 but struggled to produce his best. Walcott’s underwhelming spell at Goodison Park has seen him register just 11 goals and 9 assists in 85 appearances across all competitions.

A full international for England since 2006, Walcott has scored 8 goals in 47 appearances, and represented the Three Lions at the 2006 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 2012.

Walcott – A key signing for the Saints on deadline day

Southampton completed deals for promising youngsters like Mohammed Salisu and Kyle Walker-Peters earlier in the summer window before getting a loan deal over the line for Theo Walcott on deadline day. The Saints haven’t really gone after aging stars in the market following the appointment of Ralph Hasenhuttl but Walcott’s arrival makes perfect sense for a number of reasons. 

Theo Walcott puts finishing touches to £20m Everton move after getting green light from Arsene Wenger
Walcott made 398 appearances for Arsenal over the course of a 12-year spell in North London (Getty Images)

A veteran of over 500 club career appearances, it is quite obvious that Walcott would add some much-needed experience to a Saints’ attack largely reliant on the exuberance of youth. However, that isn’t the only reason to justify his return to St. Mary’s.

Walcott might have struggled to deliver the goods at Everton, but at 31, he still has a few good years left in him. Southampton currently lack a specialist right-winger in their ranks, with the likes of Moussa Djenepo and Nathan Redmond more efficient while operating down the left.

Stuart Armstrong has been utilised in a wide role down the right but it is a no-brainer that the arrival of a specialist option like Walcott in that department comes as a massive boost to the manager’s squad dynamics. The 31-year-old is an orthodox right-winger and would add some cutting edge and dynamism to Southampton’s attack.

Theo Walcott returns home | Southampton FC
Source: Getty Images

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Verdict

Southampton have blooded plenty of top-quality footballers in their academy but very few of them have come back to represent their boyhood club. The emotional aspect of Theo Walcott’s fairytale return to St. Mary’s has somewhat overshadowed the true value of the deal in a footballing sense.

The fans, though, would be well within their rights to expect some fireworks from their former academy wonderkid as the Saints bid to consolidate on an 11th-place finish in the PL last term.

Written by Sayan Chatterjee

A Premier League enthusiast and an avid follower of the beautiful game.

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