By Lloyd Webb

Arsène Wenger says Theo Walcott made an instant impression on him the first time that he saw him play.

The England international celebrates a decade at Arsenal this week, but it was while he was playing for Southampton in the FA Youth Cup final against Ipswich that he first caught the eye of the boss.

Walcott joined the Gunners two years later and Wenger believes he has made great strides since then.

I saw him in the final, he played on the left side where he plays now and I liked his movement off the ball

Arsène Wenger

“Theo is very intelligent,” the manager told Arsenal Player. “He always had pace and his movement off the ball was always perfect.

“I think he is much more conscious of teamwork and he has improved as well in his finishing. He is absolutely deadly compared to 10 years ago. He needed many chances to score a goal and today he can finish very well. His final ball and his technique are much better.

“Ten years here, that shows as well that he loves Arsenal and I’m convinced he will give us much more in the next five years than the last five because he is a player who is always moving forward and trying to do better. He has a very positive attitude.

“[I first saw him play] in the FA Youth Cup with Southampton. I saw him in the final, he played on the left side where he plays now and I liked his movement off the ball. A player like him is very difficult to find and Theo's movement off the ball and intelligence is really his brand and [are part of his] characteristics.”

Theo Walcott signs
Theo Walcott signs

Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source
20 Jan 2016