Southampton have announced the signing of Theo Walcott from Everton. The 31-year-old joined the Merseyside club from Arsenal, who Walcott joined from boyhood club Southampton when he was just 16.

The loan move back until the end of the season, marks a return to the south coast for the former England international.

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Walcott made his debut for Southampton aged 16 years and 143 days old, and was 17 in his first appearance for Arsenal.

Under Carlo Ancelotti, Walcott struggled for game time and the arrival of Allan and James Rodriguez have pushed him down the pecking order at the club. He was made available for loan and West Ham, Crystal Palace and Newcastle were all Premier League sides who were interested in signing him.

Southampton won the race for his signature and he will now join up with Ralph Hasenhuttl’s squad for the remainder of the season.

Walcott said: “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. It’s in my heart.

I will probably cry, I bet, when I first play, and it means so much. All the people that made it happen, I can’t thank them enough. Honestly, I’m so pleased.

“I was seriously lost for words when Southampton came on the table, and for me it was such an easy decision.

“To get the chance to work with the manager as well and these young players that are coming through, I feel like I’ve made the right choice.”

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Hasenhüttl said: “There is a lot of history between this club and Theo, so I know how special this will be for him and for our supporters.

“But what is most important to me is that we have signed a player who can help our squad and give us another strong option in our attack.

“Theo is someone who has all the qualities to fit well into our team and our style of play, and I know from speaking to him that he understands what we want and that he is excited to be a part of what we are doing here.

“His experience and influence will also be important for our young players. The idea is not to block their development, but for this to make it faster. From this professional they can learn and grow as players for the future of our club.”

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