The transfer window can be a nervous time for football fans, the fate of your own side’s players or possible transfers changing daily. This is what Arsenal fans are like every year. Whether it’s Cesc Fabregas, Luiz Suarez, Robin Van Persie or Alexis Sanchez, there is always a saga or two surrounding the Gunners in the summer time. It looks like there will be a few this year with star players’ future undecided, Alexandre Lacazette still at Lyon and domestic rivals pondering a move for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
As with Mesut Ozil and Sanchez, The Ox has a year left on his current deal and is awaiting a serious enhancement and guaranteed first-team football in North London before committing his future with the club. The Mirror have reported Liverpool are front-runners for his signature along with Manchester City and Chelsea. 23 years old, versatile, and English, he could prove a useful asset to any Premier League club which is why Arsenal must tie him down.
Yet, it’s been stop and start for Chamberlain since his burst onto the scene in 2011. Injuries and an inability to pin down his best position has meant he’s never been regarded as a senior regular for Arsene Wenger. Down the wing, across central midfield and most recently at wing back, he’s flourished in patches but never consistently. This may mean he believes it’s time for a fresh start, but is that best for such a talented prospect, desperately close to fulfilling his potential?
If he is to depart the Emirates, he will want to have reassurance of game-time. Therefore, it’s hard to see how going to a Liverpool or a City will give him that. Would he get into any team that finished above Arsenal last season? In my opinion, no. Ox says his best position is centre midfield, but the only possible place he could fit into a title challenger would be in a right back role at City or Chelsea. Is that any better than what should be a starting role at Arsenal next campaign? Everton presents an exciting fresh opportunity for him but his wages will not be at the level that Arsenal are set to offer to him. He would start every week, but the quality of player and club aspirations would be lower.
A move abroad hasn’t worked for many Englishman, but it could for Chamberlain. Roma have just sold Mohammed Salah whilst the Milan clubs are certainly active in the market. Restarting on foreign shores presents a chance for him to test himself in a new environment and show Arsenal who they’ve let go. Serge Ganbry was sold last year for a mere £5 million, and has just signed for Bayern Munich. Borussia Dortmund is a thriving stage for young players, as is Monaco, both could be attracted to bringing Ox in. What a statement it would be to Gareth Southgate, Arsenal and English football if he switches styles and becomes a star.
However, retaining the red of London as his home shirt has equal positives. In a window where exits could be regular from Arsenal, Chamberlain’s value to the team and role becomes more important. Keeping a core of homegrown players is pivotal, so why would Arsenal let a rival take Ox as one of theirs? Next season is the biggest of his career with the World Cup at the end and his career at a crossroads. If he is played in the same role for a consistent period, he will turn into a key member of the Arsenal side.
Contract talks are set to carry on for next couple of weeks with the ball firmly in Chamberlain’s half. Arsenal can’t afford to lose him, Ozil and Sanchez in one window, but if they aren’t persuasive enough they might just face that dreaded reality.
(Featured Image credit: paininthearsenal.com)