Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is confident Theo Walcott will sign a new deal but admits the player's contract could once again be allowed to run into its final six months.

The England international has less than 18 months remaining on his current deal but despite both parties claiming negotiations have begun over a fresh contract no agreement has been reached.

Walcott's last contract with Arsenal slipped into the final six months in 2013 before the player agreed a new three-and-a-half year deal, and a similar move could see the north London club exposed to a bid from a rival European club.

Players whose contracts run into the final six months are permitted to sign pre-contract agreements and speak to clubs from other countries. Walcott has also been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool in recent months.

And Wenger has indicated Arsenal could risk losing Walcott for a cut-price fee or a free transfer in the near future by admitting a deal may not be reached until December 2015.

"We are already talking to him," Wenger told a pre-match press conference ahead of the Premier League visit of Swansea City. "Today I'm not in that mode of thinking [about Walcott's possible departure] because I just think I want him to stay.

"When you go into negotiations with a player it is with a desire for him to stay. He looks keen to do it and I am keen to do it, so let's see what comes out.

"The press is always focusing on what you do in case of failure. We are always in the mode where we want to be successful. In case of failure, we'll see. But in case of failure – that will only be in December next year."

The news follows confirmation from Wenger that Carl Jenkinson will return to Arsenal after a season-long loan spell at West Ham United for talks regarding his role beyond this season.

Jenkinson has impressed at Upton Park this term but last summer's signings of Mathieu Debuchy and Calum Chambers as well as the emergence of Hector Bellerin has seen him fall down the pecking order.