The signs were already there since the beginning of the Robin van Persie saga, but Theo Walcott is closer to leaving Arsenal than he ever was, with Manchester City suddenly rising as the prime destination for the England winger, who refuse to renew his contract at the terms offered to him and might be leaving the club in the next 48 hours.

The moment it was clear that Van Persie was leaving, Walcott also started thinking about a new place. The 23 year old has one year left on his contract, and he wasn’t impressed with the new signings and what he saw as the future of the club. Walcott enjoyed the best seasons of his career over the last two years, directly connected to Robin van Persie finally turning into a consistent goal scoring machine in 2011.

Arsenal offered Walcott a five year contract with a salary of £75,000 per week (19.5 million in total for those who need help doing the math), which he and/or his representatives rejected. Now, Arsene Wenger has given the player a 48 hour ultimatum to sort his affairs and decide whether he’d like to continue at the Emirates or be sold, probably fetching a price of £12-15 million. Arsenal paid £12 for Walcott when he was 16.

Now, is Walcott refusing the contract because he wants more money, or he wants to leave and even knows there’s something waiting for him if he decided to carry on with the move? Liverpool have been linked with such a transfer all summer, and Brendan Rodgers is a keen enthusiast of the England winger. Having Manchester City waving their money (£60 million they’re willing to spend before the end of the week) might change the situation quite a bit, and the appearance of City into the picture might suggest that Walcott isn’t simply refusing Arsenal to gain more leverage in the negotiations.

City would be very interested due to the fact that their bid for Scott Sinclair fell and the English winger will be staying with Swansea. Walcott himself has already implied this summer that he wants to play for a club that is going places, meaning titles. Liverpool might be back on the rise, or at least intend to be, but Manchester City seem the most likely of the two to be lifting trophies anytime soon.

Arsenal? They’ll look better as times go by, but probably not Premier League title good. Maybe it is time for Walcott to move on, although I’m not sure Liverpool or Manchester City are places where he’ll actually improve as a player. Still, making more money is always a nice way to keep yourself happy, even if you aren’t winning titles or becoming the player everyone expected you’ll be when you were 16.