Football Rumours: Theo Walcott rules out Arsenal exit

THEO Walcott insists that football reasons, not financial ones, are at the heart of his contract stand-off with Arsenal – and claims he will not walk out on Arsene Wenger.

The winger was keen to stress he will not follow in the footsteps of Robin van Persie, Samir Nasri and Cesc Fabregas in leaving the Emirates, but only if he is played in his favoured forward position.

“I’m not the sort of person that goes after the money,” Walcott said. “It is all about the football, I have always made decisions about the football.

“I was signed as a striker and it is about time, I want to play up front. I have learnt my game on the wing. When you look at what I did last year I think I can do even more. Hopefully I will be given the opportunity. I am desperate for it.”

Meanwhile, reports are circulating that England manager Roy Hodgson attempted to talk John Terry out of his decision to retire from international football.

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The Chelsea defender decided his future with the national side was “untenable” because of the Football Association’s decision to charge him with racially abusing Anton Ferdinand.

However, it is believed Hodgson will not rule out a return for John Terry in the hope that the defender changes his mind about playing again for the Three Lions.

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Terry’s decision to leave the international scene could open the door for Rio Ferdinand, who has allegedly informed Hodgson he is ready for a call-up.

The United player has never indicated a desire to curtail his 81-cap international career despite being officially overlooked by Hodgson for “football reasons” ahead of Euro 2012 amid worries that he and Terry could not share a dressing room.

Across Manchester, centre-back Joleon Lescott, 30, is open to signing a new long-term contract with the Premier League champions.

Lescott, who signed from Everton for �22 million in 2009, has been left out of key games for City this term by manager Roberto Mancini, including the key games against Liverpool and Real Madrid – but with just two years left on his contract is hoping to secure his long-term future.

Wayne Rooney, 26, has an outside shot of making the substitutes’ bench for Manchester United’s League Cup match against Newcastle on Wednesday following the striker’s recovery from a badly gashed leg.

Winger Eden Hazard, 21, has revealed that Tottenham’s failure to finish in the Champions League qualifying positions “tipped the balance” in favour of a move to Chelsea.

Blackburn have identified Match of the Day pundit and former England striker Alan Shearer, 42, as their leading candidate to replace 44-year-old manager Steve Kean, if the Scot is sacked.

Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna, 29, is a target for Inter Milan if contract talks with the Gunners do not go well between now and next summer.

On-loan Werder Bremen midfielder Kevin de Bruyne has no doubt he will return to Chelsea after his stint in the Bundesliga, insisting a permanent move is not an option

Crawley have signed defender Nathan Byrne on loan from Tottenham

And finally, the Football Association will bid for Wembley to host the semi-finals and final of the 2020 European Championship if UEFA president Michel Platini’s plan to spread the tournament across Europe comes to fruition.

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