There are many ongoing contract sagas at Arsenal. Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and the manager himself, Arsene Wenger, have neither committed nor refused new deals, sending the club and the fans into limbo as to whether the club’s three key men will stay. But, another player who has been coy on his future, and has been linked with a move away from the Emirates, is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The Ox has improved this season for the Gunners, most notably during the club’s worst period in the last couple of months, providing a rare bright spark to a bleak run for Arsene Wenger’s men. Injury to Aaron Ramsey and a suspension to Granit Xhaka meant he was shifted into central midfield and he has been seen playing his best football ever since.
Two wins in their last seven has left Arsenal outside the top four and with only an FA Cup semi-final to try and save their season. At this rate, their focus should turn to tying down players to new contracts and Chamberlain is a player who has transformed his status at the club to being a first-team regular. With less than 18 months left on his current contract, it’s another make or break situation.
Robin Van Persie, Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Alex Song and Gael Clichy. All just a few who had run down their contracts to the last year and forced their way out of the club. Chamberlain’s time at Arsenal has been plagued with injuries and failing to reach his potential since joining in 2011. Yet, his best performances, notably in Europe against AC Milan in 2012 and away to Bayern Munich in 2014, have been as a deep-lying midfielder. Having recently been re-installed in that position, he’s earning plaudits once more.
In Arsenal’s capitulation during their 5-1 hammering from Bayern Munich this past week, Chamberlain broke Neymar’s record for most dribbles in a Champions League game (10). He’s always brave on the ball, looking to be direct and dictate the game. Especially following the long-term absence of Santi Cazorla and poor form of Mesut Ozil, the Gunners have missed someone capable of setting up attacks from deep and controlling the midfield.
He’s already achieved his highest goal tally in a campaign for Arsenal with six in 19 starts this term. In 22 league games he’s scored the same as David Silva (2), additionally, he’s completed more take-ons (70.15%) and made more assists than Riyad Mahrez and Dele Alli (4). Chamberlain has done more than Ozil to earn a new deal, certainly this season, and in being part of Arsenal’s English quota, he becomes even more integral to the club.
He would attract a host of top clubs with Manchester City and Everton (as reported by the Sun), and most recently Liverpool, suggested to be admiring the youth graduate from Southampton. Adaptable as a wide man or a central player, he is versatile and young, meaning clubs would be mad not to at least look at taking advantage of Arsenal’s seemingly hesitant approach to offering him a new deal.
What’s best for Chamberlain? First team football can be guaranteed at Arsenal with his continued progression, regression of his team-mates, and players such as Ozil and Sanchez being coy on staying themselves. He can make his mark central midfielder and even assert his place in the England squad in that very role. However, if the Gunners continue to put off offering the player an improved deal, he can’t be blamed for considering offers from elsewhere.