Southampton have denied striking a deal with Arsenal for highly rated teenager Theo Walcott.
Walcott, who is regarded as the best young English player to have emerged since Wayne Rooney, has been linked with a £10m move to Arsenal.
The club’s chairman Rupert Lowe and director of football Sir Clive Woodward visited the Gunners’ training ground yesterday, but Southampton deny that they were there to discuss a deal for Walcott.
“It is the first I have heard of it,” the Saints chairman said Friday.
“We would have to have agreed a fee for him to do that – and we have not done so. Clive Woodward and I visited Arsenal’s training ground on Thursday just to look at their facilities which are magnificent.
“Maybe that has caused some crossed wires? But we have not agreed to sell Theo, we want to keep him.”
Lowe acknowledged that the 16-year-old Walcott may eventually leave Southampton, but was adamant that nothing had been agreed.
“We want him to stay as long as possible – but I cannot give any copper-bottomed answers and say he will be here for the next five years or two years or whatever,” Lowe said on the club’s official website.
“We hope he will be and while he is happy that we are the club to give him the right career path to progress then I am sure he will stay.
“But if at any stage he wants to go then that will be a matter for him and his advisors and those he talks to.
“In the same way that supporters have jobs and sometimes move on, if he feels he is better served by a move then that is a matter for him.
“I don’t think we will feel for a very long time that we would want him to go and we never try to sell our players at 16 or 17.
“We want to get the best from him and for him to progress and flourish here as he has done so far.
“He is a wonderful player and we hope to have him for a very long time, but you can never say never and I cannot guarantee it.”
Subscribe to World Soccer – The essential football magazine