'I will probably cry': Theo Walcott leaves Everton and returns to Southampton


Theo Walcott’s career has come full circle with the Everton winger rejoining Southampton 14 years after leaving his boyhood club.

“I had a few opportunities from other clubs but as soon as Southampton came in for me, it’s part of me and has made me into the player I am,” Walcott said after completing his medical on Monday night. “It’s in my heart. I will probably cry, I bet, when I first play, and it means so much.”

The 31-year-old was in the final year of his Everton contract and his only start for Carlo Ancelotti’s team this season was the Carabao Cup second-round win against Salford. Having completed the signing of Ben Godfrey from Norwich on deadline day and moved for a new goalkeeper to compete with Jordan Pickford, Everton accepted Southampton’s offer of a loan deal with wages split between the clubs.

Walcott earns a basic £110,000 a week at Everton and cost £20m when signing for Sam Allardyce from Arsenal in January 2018. The winger, who has had an underwhelming spell at Goodison Park, left Southampton in January 2006, having risen through their academy to make his first-team debut at 16.

“All the people that made this move happen, I can’t thank them enough. Honestly, I’m so pleased,” he said. “I was seriously lost for words when Southampton came on the table and for me it was such an easy decision.”

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Everton had earlier made Godfrey their fifth signing of the window after agreeing a £25m fee rising to £30m with Norwich for the central defender. It is a record fee received by Norwich, eclipsing the £22m Leicester paid for James Maddison in 2018. Godfrey, 22, has signed a five-year contract and follows Niels Nkounkou, Allan, James Rodríguez and Abdoulaye Doucouré as Ancelotti’s additions to the Everton squad.

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The England Under-21 defender said: “It is an honour to sign for Everton and to be part of a huge club. The aim for me at Everton is to win trophies and win games. I like to win. I wear my heart on my sleeve. I care and I am a passionate lad.

“I like to bring pace to the game. I like to play out from the back. I can play in a range of positions: left or right as a centre-back, I have played full-back and holding midfield. I will play wherever the manager sees fit as I absolutely trust his opinion.

“The manager’s past speaks for itself. He has worked with some top-class centre-backs. I will be able to learn so much from him and he is going to help me get to that next level, which is where I want to be.”

Everton were also keen to sign a goalkeeper with Pickford’s erratic form continuing this season. The club made inquiries for Sergio Romero at Manchester United and Paulo Gazzaniga at Tottenham before switching their attention to Roma’s Swedish international Robin Olsen, who has joined on a season’s loan.

United and Spurs were reluctant to sanction the loan deal that Everton preferred, prompting Romero’s wife, Eliana Guercio, to express her anger on Instagram.

Guercio wrote: “Sergio Romero worked hard for his club. Last trophy they won, they lifted it with him. He helped the team reach 4 finals/semifinals and then he was left on the bench only to lose them all. It is time for them to return the opportunity and let him go. Respect for once!”

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