By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger believes that Theo Walcott is better for his age than Lionel Messi.

The Argentinean striker is one of world football’s most mercurial talents. Like Walcott he burst onto the scene early but has gone on to carry the hopes of both Club and country.

The same could happen to the 19-year-old. The Arsenal star has featured in every game this season in the Premier League and Champions League. He has also just returned from eye-catching appearances in both of England’s World Cup qualifiers.

That schedule might mean Walcott is bench-bound against Everton on Saturday afternoon. But time is on Walcott’s side, according to his manager.

“He’s different [to Messi at that age] and I think he’s more,” said Wenger at Friday’s press conference.

“If you have to look for a weakness in Messi you would say it is his ability to run without the ball, behind the defender.

“When he takes the ball to his feet he’s like a Ferrari. But Theo is more a guy who has the timing to run off the ball and that is something that is difficult to find.

“We had Marc Overmars who was especially good at that and I’m a great, great lover of movement off the ball.”

Walcott will be involved against Everton but, speaking on Friday lunchtime, Wenger had yet to decide the extent.

“We play Tuesday again so that would be four games in 10 days,” he said.

“We have done our observation [tests]. They are not linked especially with the  England  matches but we do know how the individual players respond to repetitions of games.

“Before Walcott went away with England I already felt, after the Sunderland game, he looked tired. He’s the kind of player who plays with a lot of energy, every time he goes he goes 100 per cent.”

Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to as the source
17 Oct 2008