Theo Walcott is ready to open talks with Arsenal over a contract extension, despite his struggles at the Emirates Stadium since returning from his lengthy injury lay-off in January.

This is according to the Telegraph, who understand the Gunners are subsequently preparing to begin formal talks with the English winger and his representatives over a new contract following weeks of speculation suggesting he could leave the north London outfit as early as this summer.

The talks are set to be held in the two weeks between this Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Reading and the Premier League fixture against Hull City on May 4.

Walcott has been strongly linked with a move to Liverpool, the club he grew up supporting, but that potential summer deal is now unlikely to happen because Arsenal have serious doubts over Raheem Sterling’s character.

Arsene Wenger is understood to have reservations about the 20-year-old, whose future at Anfield is in doubt, following several controversial incidents over the past few weeks.

This may have made the veteran French coach more determined to keep Walcott, 26, at the Emirates Stadium despite the player’s previous reluctance to open talks over a new deal until the summer.

While the fact Liverpool are unlikely to qualify for next season’s Champions League campaign may have had a bearing on Walcott’s decision to finally open talks over a new Arsenal deal before the end of the current term.

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