Theo Walcott can finally fulfill expectations at Everton
Theo Walcott is only 28. Who would have guessed? After bursting on to the scene 12 years ago at Southampton, he was snapped up by Arsenal in January 2006. His surprise call-up for England's World Cup squad six months later earned him celebrity status overnight.
Ever since then, though, Walcott has been burdened with many expectations. Despite earning 47 England caps and making 397 appearances for Arsenal, his career has fallen short.
After 12 seasons of utmost loyalty to the Gunners, Walcott finally used the exit. He accepted a lifeline from Sam Allardyce to join Everton on a three-and-a-half-year deal. The Toffee's parted with £20 million to secure Walcott's services last month.
For the last several years Walcott has been linked with a move away from Arsenal. Only his desire to win over the fans kept him at the Emirates, even when he was offered better opportunities elsewhere. After hitting 21 goals in all competitions five seasons ago, many believed the attacker's career had been resuscitated. It proved false hope, however.
Walcott's exit from Arsenal was inevitable. The England international fell so far down the pecking order that he appeared in only six Premier League games this season. He desperately needed a fresh start.
Despite developing a late interest, signing Walcott was clearly a priority for Everton. Allardyce initially guided the Toffees to a seven-game unbeaten run, but they have since suffered a decline. The team lacked pace and more importantly - goals. Although Wayne Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson are talented players, neither are the type to obliterate the opposition's defence. They both rely heavily on passing the ball and letting the striker find the net. Everton, therefore, were left weak with no player capable of counter-attacking or finishing off moves. Two areas in which Walcott excels.
Cenk Tosun's arrival at Goodison Park adds more competition for the striking role. The Turkey international may take time to settle, though, whereas Walcott's vast Premier League experience will ensure he finds his feet quickly.
Walcott's versatility makes him a good prospect. At Arsenal, he was used mostly on the right wing. He is also capable of playing as a lone striker, a position he tried to cement at the Emirates. With forwards such as Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie and Olivier Giroud competing against him, however, it proved an impossible task. More chances should arise at Everton.
Potential is a word that has followed Walcott around throughout his career. Two years shy of 30, it's no longer applicable. He's possibly embarking on his last opportunity to achieve success, both domestically and internationally.
After several years on Arsenal's fringes, Walcott's name no longer registered in English football. To revive his career, he had to vacate the North London club. The Blue half of Merseyside was the right destination.
Walcott, who wears Everton's number 11 shirt, now has the assurance of working with a manager who knows his value. He can finally fulfill his potential while helping the Toffees reach the next level.