Arsene Wenger says he believes Theo Walcott has all the qualities to play as a central striker.

The England international spearheaded the Gunners’ attack against West Brom last week and he picked up a first-half hat-trick in the 4-1 win.

Walcott troubled the Baggies’ defence throughout with his blistering pace and he displayed a finishing touch that has rarely been seen this season. Now, Wenger insists he sees the 26-year-old’s future as a striker, rather than on the right flank where he has played for the majority of his Arsenal career.

“I want Walcott to play through the middle,” Wenger said. “He is similar to Jack [Wilshere], he has been out for a year. I want them to stay. “He can play on the flank but if you ask where I see him in the future it is through the middle.

If you ask him ‘where do you see yourself in the future’ he will say through the middle as well. “He has electric pace but his top, top quality is the timing and quality of his runs. The quality of his receptions – the space where he gets the ball – that is above average compared to many players. His finishing is top class as well.”

Walcott’s future at Arsenal will depends on how his contract talks with the club progress over the coming months. His current deal is set to expire in 2016 but Wenger has been open about his desire to keep the Englishman.

Liverpool and Chelsea have reportedly been keeping a close eye ont he situation and they would be interested if Walcott becomes available.

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