Arsenal wanted Walcott stay regardless of hat-trick - Wenger
Arsene Wenger says Theo Walcott's hat-trick in Arsenal's 4-1 rout of West Brom has not heightened his desire to keep the forward at the club because he wanted him to stay regardless.
Walcott has been linked with a move away from the Emirates Stadium, with Liverpool reported to be among the sides interested, and he gave a timely reminder of his quality as the Premier League season came to a close on Sunday.
The England international opened the scoring with a rasping drive and poked home a second, before Jack Wilshere added a stunning third in the 17th minute.
Walcott then rounding off Arsenal's scoring before half-time and, although Gareth McAuley bagged a second-half consolation, the Londoners secured third place and direct entry to the UEFA Champions League group stages ahead of Manchester United.
"The result does not change anything. With a hat-trick or without hat-trick we want him to stay," Wenger said.
"We are in negotiations, we started to speak to his agent before he scored his hat-trick."
Walcott returned to action in November after spending 10 months on the sidelines with a serious knee injury sustained against Tottenham in January 2014.
Wenger believes that the former Southampton man, who started in his favoured striker role against West Brom, is now starting to rediscover his top form after scoring for the first time in the Premier League since February.
"He was already sharp when he came on midweek against Sunderland," Wenger added. "He created the chances, I always say he can play through the middle because he has good movement and good finishing - he did that well.
"He's a good goalscorer but has been out for a year. A year in football is a long time takes time to come back to the best for the sharpness and confidence."