Theo Walcott Arsenal Aston Villa
Arsene Wenger has hinted that he is ready to give Theo Walcott his preferred central striking role Reuters

Arsene Wenger has urged striker Theo Walcott to spend his best years ahead with the Gunners.

The England international is set to enter the final year of his contract and talks have begun over a new deal, but according to the manager there has been not much progress on that front.

Walcott has struggled to make the first-team since his return from a long-term knee injury, but Wenger confirmed that he was just being cautious with the forward due to the seriousness of his injury.

The French manager is keen to keep the striker at the Emirates Stadium and has tempted him to sign a new deal by hinting that he will be provided with opportunities as a central striker, which is Walcott's preferred position.

Wenger sees Walcott's future as a central striker and has admitted that he has been working on transforming him from a winger to a forward just like he did with Thierry Henry.

"Being 26 to 32 is the best age as a striker and I wouldn't like to miss that golden age," Wenger said, as quoted by the BBC.

"He can be transformed. He is naturally gifted to play in this position."

"I work with him in both situations, as a striker and as a wide player but the quality of the runs is so fantastic with the pace he has," the French manager explained.

"When he was younger he was rushing his finishing but he is a good finisher now."

Wenger is hoping that Walcott can remain with the club beyond next season, when his contract expires, as he is the most senior player at the club when it comes to appearances made.

"He is part of us. Of the whole squad he is the player who has played the most games for us," the Gunners boss added.

"He loves the club and I think he wants to stay. Once a player accepts talking to you, that means his first wish is to stay."

"If then you cannot find an agreement, that has nothing to do with loyalty.

"I don't think his desire is to leave," Wenger concluded.