Arsenal legend Martin Keown claims Theo Walcott should leave the Emirates in the January transfer window due to the lack of playing time.

The 28-year-old's contract with the north London club will run down after the end of the next season. He has been attracting interest from Premier League clubs Southampton and Everton as the two clubs are keen on securing his services.

Walcott joined the Gunners in January 2006 from Southampton. The Saints are looking to re-sign the England international and their manager Mauricio Pellegrino even confirmed his side's interest in the player.

Everton boss Sam Allardyce has also expressed his desire to sign the England international in the mid-season transfer window. Walcott has struggled for regular playing time as he has not started in the Premier League this season.

Despite Wenger's public stance that he wants to keep the forward at the club, Keown claims the Frenchman's decision to not play Walcott is a message for the attacker that he is no longer needed at the club.

"Theo is 28 years old now. Personally, if I wasn't playing in the Arsenal team and I was his age, I would be going," Keown told the Daily Mail.

"Your love of playing football has to be greater than anything else. When you're playing football, everything clicks into gear in the rest of your life. If you have a family and the one thing missing is playing every week then you're not complete.

"I'd be going through tremendous turmoil if I was him because if I can't play, then there is no point in being at Arsenal.

"Wenger is quietly telling Walcott he no longer needs him by having not started him in a single Premier League game this season. Wenger can say what he wants publicly but he's telling him what he really thinks every week.

"I don't think he will go back to Southampton. By now he would be feeling he has not fulfilled what was expected from his career.

"I have to say, Theo is a thoroughly nice guy and I think what Wenger has created at Arsenal is a group of intelligent, young, mature men who do not fly off the handle. Theo just needs to do some soul searching. He has to ask himself the question – does he want to play football or not?"

Walcott is earning £110,000-a-week ($151, 024) at Arsenal. According to the BBC, Everton are ready to meet his wage demands and also meet the Gunners' £20m valuation for the forward.

Theo Walcott
Theo Walcott has not started in the Premier League this season Getty