Arsenal sold Theo Walcott on the cheap as a goodwill gesture due to the winger’s long service, according to Everton manager Sam Allardyce.
Given the extravagant valuations of players in the January transfer window, Everton’s securing of Walcott for £20 million rates as one of the bargains of season.
Walcott returns to his old club this weekend, with his new manager saying such a reasonable price was possible due to the professionalism of the player over the course of his 12-year Arsenal career.
“I think a lot of negotiation was done by Theo,” said Allardyce.
“Because of his service to the club and the fact he would accept what Arsene was doing, he is not a troublesome player who would throw the toys out of the pram.
“That respect between him and the club resulted in the move. There are no easy negotiations with Arsenal, believe you me, but eventually the negotiations got to where we did and the insistence for the first time ever from Theo that he wanted to leave, plus the respect they have for each other and the service he gave, probably was a factor.
“A lot of things have been said about Theo – he hasn’t reached his full potential and all that – but I don’t know how you could say that after last season’s performance with 30-plus games and 19 goals. I think if he’d have been playing a lot this year he would have been happy to finish his career at Arsenal.
“This time around, because he wasn’t getting his game time, he looked at his career and decided he had to leave. He chose us and hopefully he’ll be a big player for us.”
Walcott announced himself on Merseyside with two goals in the 2-1 win over Leicester in midweek.
It will be an emotional reunion at The Emirates, but Allardyce is convinced the 28-year-old is already winning over his new supporters.
“The more he plays like he did the other night the more the fans appreciate him,” he said.
“When you’re appreciated and supported and praised as a footballer it makes you feel good and more confident. You can’t wait to get out there and upset other teams. He’s started well and we hope he continues that until the end of the season and for the next three or four seasons that he’s here.
“I think Theo showed consistency last year. Sometimes niggly injuries have blocked his development.
“We have to be slightly careful because 90 minutes in three days is not something he’s been used to this season, even though he’s not had an injury.
“You get more fatigue until you get your match fitness. Then you can cope from a week in week out point of view.”
Allardyce is wary of keeping Seamus Coleman in his line-up after what he called a ‘superhuman’ return from a 10-month absence.
Despite expressing discontent with Davy Klaassen’s failure to join Napoli on loan, he will not banish the Dutchman from his senior squad. Klaassen, however, is not in the manager’s thoughts for a first team call-up.