Everton manager Sam Allardyce claims the opportunity to sign Theo Walcott from Arsenal for £20m ($28.2m) was a "no-brainer" as the England international is in line to face his former club on 3 February, Saturday.

The 28-year-old struggled to feature regularly for the Gunners in the first half of the season, despite scoring 19 goals last term. Walcott was one of the three leading goal-scorers for the north London club in the 2016/17 campaign.

Alexis Sanchez and Olivier Giroud were the other two players who scored 30 and 16 goals respectively. Arsene Wenger sold the three attackers in the mid-season transfer window, with the Chilean international joining Manchester United, while Chelsea landed the Frenchman on the deadline day.

Walcott already scored a brace in the Merseyside club's 2-1 win over Leicester City in the last league tie. Allardyce remains confident the ex-Arsenal forward can be a "key player for Everton" as he prepares to face his former club on Saturday.

When asked about Walcott's deal, Allardyce said: "It's a no-brainer. I can't say what Arsene thinks but the opportunity to take a player with last season's goals record and that quality wasn't a big decision for me."

"The bigger decision was (£25m for) Cenk Tosun because that is a much bigger risk (on a player new to English football) but we are short of goals.

"With Theo, a lot of things have been said - 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: 30-odd games, 19 goals. He can be a key player for Everton now."

Allardyce also stressed that Walcott's desire to join Everton made it easier for his side to beat competition from Southampton for the player's signature.

"I think a lot of negotiation was done by Theo: 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," Everton manager stressed.

"He could have gone back to his hometown club Southampton, who were our big rivals, but the challenge he sees at Everton – can he get Everton to where they want to be? - he would help in that.

"There are no easy negotiations with Arsenal, believe me, but eventually 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."

Theo Walcott
Theo Walcott moved to Everton from Arsenal in January Getty