Theo Walcott timed his hat-trick against Reading perfectly as it puts him in a position of strength in his contract talks with Arsenal, which he has not been in for some time. However, I still think he has a lot to prove to the club if he is to merit £100,000 per week, especially if he wants to perform as a striker.
Arsenal have been playing hardball, with Arsene Wenger saying on Thursday that he wants the issue resolved by Christmas, and you can understand why. You have to earn new contracts as a player, especially improved ones, and there is a strong case that Walcott hasn't done quite enough.
There is talk that Arsenal are offering £75,000 per week while Walcott is holding out for much more, but he isn't worth a six-figure weekly salary. Anyone who earns £100,000 a week needs to deliver cast-iron consistency. He probably doesn't even deserve £75,000, but that is what the football market dictates to be reasonable.
I can fully understand Arsenal's stance. I get the feeling that the last thing Walcott wants is to leave Arsenal and the club know that. So this talk of deadlines and possible departures could all be posturing and part of the negotiation process. I still think both parties will think there is a solution to come from this.
However, if it gets to Christmas and they are still some way apart in talks then Arsenal are going to have to sell him. If Wenger's deadline for a breakthrough has not been met then I think it makes very little sense holding onto him. You are better off moving on an unhappy player, even if he is a senior player. It is never ideal to sell in January but they might have to in order to avoid losing him for free in the summer.
While he combined well with Robin van Persie last season, Wenger has been waiting for Walcott to make that consistent breakthrough. At the moment he is a little bit up and down: he has spells where he has great games but then completely disappears.
Walcott's reply would presumably be that he isn't in his favoured role - 'put me up front and I'll show you what I can do consistently'. But Arsenal's 4-3-3 means the striker plays through the middle on their own. Is he strong enough? Is his hold-up play good enough? There are still real doubts.
That is not to say he doesn't have the right qualities to be a striker. His pace alone gives him an edge over opponents as he can get to loose balls before defenders. Look at the first goal against Reading: his pace got him clear and then opened up his body for a great little finish. He was calm, composed and got his side back in the game.
But there are things he doesn't see in the game. Chris Waddle's famous criticism of him had some truth to it. He stands and watches football sometimes when he should be moving and as such doesn't make the most of his pace. But when he is in full flow he is unplayable.
Walcott will eventually become a striker because his desire to move into a central position is so strong that he is apparently prepared to cut his ties with Arsenal if he does not get those assurances. If he does leave, then presumably he will demand to be treated as a striker at his next club.
There certainly won't be a shortage of sides willing to work with the raw talent that Walcott has. Manchester City have been mentioned as possible suitors but I think he will find the same frustrations there that he does at Arsenal.
Juventus is an interesting possibility. They play great football but don't score goals because they don't have a forward capable of scoring 20 a season. They also play in a 3-5-2 which would suit Walcott as it would give him someone to play off.
However, speculation linking him with Liverpool probably makes the most sense. They are desperately short of central strikers - Luis Suarez is the only one really, and you wouldn't even really class him as a central striker - so he would get plenty of playing time if he did go to Anfield.
But it is hard for any buying club who needs a striker to look at Walcott and make him their top target. We just haven't seen enough evidence that he can be consistently effective in the role. Arsenal aren't even sure about him, so how can a buying club be? It would be a big gamble for £100,000 per week.