ARSENE Wenger wants Saints target Theo Walcott to stay put at Arsenal this month – despite scarcely playing him.

As reported by the Daily Echo, Saints are after their former player, who left for the Gunners in 2006, and want to get a loan deal done in this transfer window.

But Wenger has thrown a spanner in the works by admitting he'd like the England international, who has played just 14 times this season, to remain at the Emirates.

He said: "I want him to stay. I heard about [the Southampton rumours], but personally I want him to stay."

On top of Wenger's words, Arsenal ideally want to sort out the future of talisman Alexis Sanchez, who is out of contract this summer, before Walcott's next step is discussed.

Saints are in desperate need of attacking reinforcements as they battle for survival in the Premier League.

They have money after Virgil van Dijk's £75m departure to Liverpool and are ready to invest.

Walcott is an attractive proposition and a homecoming would certainly be welcomed by Saints' disgruntled fanbase, who are fed up with the team's current ineptitude.

The 28-year-old's high wage demands are understood to be a sticking point in any potential deal, though.

Walcott, who hasn't started a Premier League game for Arsenal this season, wants in excess of £100,000 a week and, if Saints were to agree to that, it would make him by far the highest earner at St Mary's.