Stoke City have emerged as surprise contenders in the race to sign Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with Mark Hughes preparing to compete with the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City to secure the England international according to The Sun.
Arsene Wenger signed the midfielder for £12 million in 2011 with Chamberlain being widely perceived as one of English football’s brightest young talents after he had risen to prominence as a 17-year-old at Southampton.
However, despite making over 100 appearances for The Gunners in the following six years, the England international has failed to fulfil his potential at The Emirates Stadium and has been unable to cement a consistent place in the Arsenal starting eleven due to loss of form, injuries and fierce competition.
Now 23 years-of-age, Chamberlain is no longer content with being a bit-part player at the North London club and is determined to secure regular game time with a spot in Gareth Southgate’s England squad at stake ahead of next year’s World Cup.
The midfielder is reportedly considering making a fresh start at a new club ahead of the start of the season and has attracted the interest of some of English football’s superpowers including Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City. However, Stoke have emerged as a genuine option for Chamberlain who has agreed to open discussions with The Potteries club over a potential move.
Stoke look for big-name signing
Stoke City have been left with a bloodied nose following the departure of Marko Arnautovic to West Ham United last week with Mark Hughes keen to make a big-name signing to replace the charismatic Austrian.
The 28-year-old had been a key member of The Potters’ first team squad since his arrival in 2013, being directly involved in over 25% of the club’s goals last season, and was a definitive fan favourite.
Yet, despite signing a new long-term contract that made him Stoke’s highest paid player just twelve months ago, Arnautovic handed in a transfer request at the start of the summer and eventually forced through a £20 million, as per BBC Sport, move to West Ham. His departure has left a bitter taste around the Bet365 Stadium and leaves a gaping hole in the current first team squad.
Hughes has identified Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as the perfect replacement and believes that the Arsenal midfielder possess the star quality to add an extra facet of creativity to his Stoke team. Whilst Arsene Wenger tended to use the 23-year-old as a wing-back towards the end of last season, Hughes would be willing to guarantee the England international regular game time as a winger.
Arsenal will be looking to receive in excess of £25 million before they consider allowing Chamberlain to depart and Stoke are prepared to break their transfer record in order to secure his signature. In addition to this, the midfielder has just twelve months remaining on his current contract and The Potters will aim to use this as leverage to negotiate a lower asking price with The Gunners.
The player’s Dad, Mark Chamberlain, also played for Stoke in the early 1980s and the club hope that this connection could play a role in convincing the Arsenal star to move to The Potteries.
Is a move likely?
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain undoubtedly needs a fresh start at a new Premier League club in order to kick-start his career.
The England international has been unable to cement himself as a regular fixture in Arsene Wenger’s team over the last six years, despite possessing an abundance of talent and, at 23 years of age, it is surely now time for the midfielder to consider a move elsewhere.
With a spot in Gareth Southgate’s England squad up for grabs ahead of the World Cup, Chamberlain can ill afford to be a bit-part player in the coming year – he needs regular first team football.
Whilst Stoke City may not be the most obvious of destinations, especially when considering the interest from the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City, a move to The Potteries could be hugely beneficial for all involved.
The Potters desperately require a wide player following the departure of Marko Arnautovic with Mark Hughes determined to make a big-name signing prior to the start of the season.
Last year the team lacked pace and creativity in the final third of the pitch, something that Chamberlain can undoubtedly provide, whilst the club certainly have money to spend from West Ham United for Arnautovic likely to be aided by further departures.
Whilst Stoke may not be able to offer Chamberlain European football or an opportunity to challenge for major honours they can guarantee the 23-year-old first team football.
A move to a leading English club could just result in the midfielder ending up in the same situation that he finds himself in at Arsenal – as a bit part player trying to cement a place in the starting eleven – would a step down to a mid-table club where regular first team football would be on offer be such a bad move?