Theo Walcott Arsenal Aston Villa
Theo Walcott scored a hat-trick against West Bromwich in Arsenal's last game of the seasonReuters

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has declared he wants Theo Walcott to stay at the Emirates Stadium for the long-term as he is finally ready to give him a role in his favoured position up front.

Having barely played during the last year due to injuries, the future of the England international at north London has been under scrutiny in recent times as his current deal is due to expire in 2016.

But after he scored a first-half hat-trick during the comfortable 4-1 victory over West Bromwich in the last Premier League game of the year, Wenger says he is ready to keep him at the club and hand him the chance to prove his worth in a central role.

"I want Walcott to play through the middle and I want him to stay here. He has been out for a year. We want him to stay," Wenger said ahead of the FA Cup final against Aston Villa on Saturday 30 May.

Asked why it has taken so long to make the decision to play him up front, he said: "I have played him already through the middle."

"Not more because he was a lot injured. Giroud is completely different. When I play Giroud I have to play him on the flank. He (Walcott) came here a wide player"

"He can play flank or he can play in the middle and in the future I think he is going to play more in the middle."

And questioned whether he was clinical enough to play as the Arsenal number nine as Sergio Aguero does at Manchester City, he said: "I think so but anyway he can play as well on the flank."

"But if you ask me where I do see him in the future it is through the middle and if you ask him where he sees himself in the future he will tell you in the middle. Why? Because he has an electric pace but also top top quality, because the timing and the quality of his runs. If you analyse the quality of his reception and, what we called today the quality of reception is the space where he gets the ball, he is above average compared to many players."

Other players like former Manchester United legend Cristiano Ronaldo have made a similar swap from the flank to a central role while becoming a prolific goalscorer.

Asked if Walcott can make such a transition, Wenger said: "Ronaldo officially still plays on the wing."

"But he also scored a lot of goals from the flanks. At Manchester Untied he played on the right side and he scored like 30 goals. Ronaldo is top in the air."