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29 August 2017

Arsenal handed major boost in their pursuit of Virgil van Dijk, with Southampton wanting Theo Walcott in a swap-deal return

ARSENAL have been handed a major boost in their pursuit of Virgil van Dijk, with Southampton wanting Theo Walcott in return.

The Gunners have been hoping to land the want away Dutch defender all summer, but have faced competition from Liverpool.

Southampton may allow Virgil van Dijk to leave... with Theo Walcott returning
Southampton may allow Virgil van Dijk to leave… with Theo Walcott returning
PA:Empics Sport
Theo Walcott could join Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in leaving Arsenal
Theo Walcott could join Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in leaving Arsenal
PA:Empics Sport

Jurgen Klopp had been set to clinch a £60million deal for Van Dijk, but Saints complained about a reported “illegal approach” and the deal fell apart.

The Reds are still hoping to land the centre-back, but Arsene Wenger’s Gunners now appear to be the leaders in the race.

The main draw for Mauricio Pellegrino is the inclusion of Arsenal bit-part player Walcott, according to the Daily Star.

The 47-cap England international, 28, has struggled to make an impact at the Emirates in recent seasons, with Wenger unsure of his best position.

Now, with a surplus of attacking options and a comparative lack of defenders with Shkodran Mustafi set to leave join Inter Milan after just a year in England, Walcott could be allowed to head home to Southampton.

Walcott started his career at Southampton in 2005, making 21 first-team appearances before Arsenal signed him for £12million in the January of 2006.

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Liverpool target Virgil van Dijk is on his way back to full fitness after injury
Southampton have been stubbornly clinging on to Virgil van Dijk this summer
Southampton have been stubbornly clinging on to Virgil van Dijk this summer
PA:Press Association


Arsenal player Theo Walcott appears angry after being substituted by Arsene Wenger

But now, after 381 first-team appearances in all competitions – scoring 104 times – Walcott could be on his way back home, especially after playing just 50 minutes for the first-team so far this season.

Southampton have been apprehensive to let Van Dijk leave the club – despite freezing him out of the first-team so far this season.

The Dutch defender only signed a new long-term contract at St Mary’s last summer – with a clause insisting he remain at the club for at least two more seasons.

Virgil van Dijk may now finally be on the way out of Southampton
Virgil van Dijk may now finally be on the way out of Southampton
AP:Associated Press
Theo Walcott is set to rejoin Southampton in a Virgil van Dijk swap deal
Theo Walcott is set to rejoin Southampton in a Virgil van Dijk swap deal
Getty

But now, Southampton could be willing to allow that to slide, so long as they Walcott back on their books once more.

The flying winger himself could be happy to move back to the south coast, as it would almost certainly allow him more first-team action.

In a World Cup year, that could prove the difference between being on the plane to Russia… and not.

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