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Chelsea circling for Theo Walcott’s signature this summer

Premier League leaders Chelsea are preparing to test Arsenal’s resolve this summer, as they line up a bid for England international Theo Walcott, with his current contract situation at the Emirates shrouded in doubt.

Arsene Wenger’s top four hopefuls, odds-on 4/5 with Coral to secure an FA Cup triumph, are yet to tie down their pacey winger on a new contract, and their fellow Londoners remain keen admirers of his attacking talents.

Jose Mourinho’s Blues will be hopeful of luring Gunners wideman Walcott to Stamford Bridge if a new long-term deal across the capital cannot be agreed quickly, with Liverpool also reportedly expressing an interest in his services.

The 26-year-old recently made a starting return to international action in the Three Lions’ 1-1 friendly draw with Italy, his first in 18 months. Walcott was unable to make a genuine impact on proceedings, having also come on as a substitute in the 4-0 Euro 2016 qualifier thrashing of Lithuania.

Boasting a wide range of astute attributes capable of benefiting any top-flight club, if he can remain fully fit, Walcott missed the majority of last year’s action with cruciate knee ligament damage, so his signing could be a potential risk with such a troublesome injury record.

If the former Southampton star can recapture the creative form from previous seasons, then he could potentially become a vital asset to Mourinho during his second spell in charge of Chelsea, should Wenger refuse to offer a new contract this year. With only 14 months remaining on his present deal, the versatile Arsenal attacker may welcome a change of scenery, after falling down the pecking order behind clinical Chilean Alexis Sanchez at his current employers.

Other than playing in a familiar wide position, Walcott can also be deployed in a central attacking role, and has also featured as a number 10 at international level. Versatility is a vital quality that Blues boss Mourinho adores in his forwards, and a trait that could draw him towards luring Walcott into a summer switch.

As well as helping England secure qualification for Euro 2016, Walcott will be aiming to lead Arsenal to a place in next season’s Champions League, and the Gunners look likely to do so after climbing to third position. They are 7/1 to miss out on a top four finish this current campaign.