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Arsenal makes £26m offer to keep Theo Walcott

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Arsernal will make a £26 million offer to keep Theo Walcott.

Chief executive Ivan Gazidis is ready to speak with the England star’s representatives — possibly in the next 48 hours — to end the contract deadlock.

Walcott, 23, who will see his current deal end this season, is set to be tempted with a £90,000-a-week salary over five years, bringing him level with top earners such as Lukas Podolski.

And he will also be offered a £3m signing-on fee to take the overall package to £26.4m.

Walcott and his team held unofficial talks with Gazidis early last month. But he has not had a concrete offer since the summer when he rejected £80,000 a week.

The player, who earns £50,000 a week, has seen his bargaining power increase due to recent goal-scoring displays in the new central striking role he craves.

He is also incredibly popular with the fans and is desperate to remain in north London.

Even though Chelsea and Manchester City want him, Walcott is desperate to commit his long-term future to the Emirates.

Arsenal, meanwhile, have been warned off a bid for Barcelona striker David Villa.

The Gunners are expected to strengthen their squad in the transfer window, having already offloaded Moroccan misfit Marouane Chamakh on a six-month loan deal to West Ham.

Boss Arsene Wenger is said to be keen on Spanish star Villa, 31, who was a sub in the 4-0 win over Espanyol at the weekend.

But Barca president Sandro Rosell, insists Villa, signed in a £31m deal from Valencia in 2010, is going nowhere.

He said: “I completely rule out his transfer during the winter market. He is ours and we need him.”

Arsenal are also reported to be keen on Atletico Madrid frontman Adrian Lopez.

While Wenger is claimed to be looking at Anderlecht’s Argentina ace Lucas Biglia to boost his midfield options.

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