Archive for August 8th, 2011

A real life signing: Alex Chamberlain

466 comments August 8th, 2011

Young Gun: Alex Chamberlain

Well, we were promised transfer activity this week, and now we’ve got it.  Southampton’s 17-year-old winger Alex (Oxlade) Chamberlain has signed for Arsenal, for an undisclosed fee.

Depending on who you believe, Southampton stand to receive either ten, twelve or fifteen million pounds for the player, depending on performance-related clauses.  One things for sure – it exceeds the £9m we ended up paying for Theo Walcott, with the Saints themselves saying their previous transfer records have been “blown out of the water”.

Arsene initially pushed for a deal to be done in January, but Southampton’s desire to ensure promotion to the Championship saw them resist any bid.

Ideally they would have liked to keep Chamberlain this season too, but the player made life harder by declaring his desire to move.  Now it seems Arsenal have come up with the requisite fee to make all parties happy.

He’s clearly a player of real potential, and as such is a welcome addition to the squad.  However, it’s a signing that’s taken me a little by surprise, despite Arsenal’s long-term interest in the player.  When you look at our squad, we’re not lacking in wide attackers: Nasri, Arshavin, Gervinho, Walcott, Rosicky, Miyaichi and Vela can all occupy those positions.  With a fee of this size, it’s hard to see us loaning Chamberlain out, so perhaps the rumours that Carlos Vela and Miyaichi may be set for temporary moves abroad have some truth to them.

There will doubtless be fans who are frustrated at Arsene’s willingness to pay such a high price for a teenager when he baulks at similar fees for established internationals.  I share that frustration.  All I can say to that is that I hope Chamberlain is the first of several new faces, the rest of which will be slightly more experienced than the young Englishman.  Of our three summer signings thus far, two have only ever played in League One.  Intriguingly, the other, Gervinho, has played in the similar-sounding but significantly more competitive Ligue 1.  I can’t be alone in hoping we still get that Premier League-hardened defender we badly lack.

For now, however, we welcome Alex Chamberlain aboard the good ship Arsenal.  An ankle injury has held up his pre-season, so I don’t expect him to be in contention for a few weeks yet.  Having followed the same path, the press will doubtless be hailing him tomorrow as ‘The New Theo Walcott’.  If, however, you want a more considered view of the player, you can read this piece – Ready Or Not: Alex Chamberlain, from January.

Or, indeed, have a gander at the video below.  More tomorrow.

Comfort from an unusual source

507 comments August 8th, 2011

It has come to something when the words of David Dein provide comfort for Arsenal fans.  In recent months he and his family seem to have actively destabilised the club they profess to love.  However, in an interview with the BBC, Dein has urged the supporters to stand by manager Arsene Wenger:

”Arsene Wenger will admit he has had the most difficult couple of years of his career, for two reasons.

‘One is the fact the game is getting more competitive, we have seen more money coming in so the competition out there is more intense. ‘Secondly, he has had to contend with the fact he hasn’t achieved what he would have hoped to achieve, albeit he has done remarkably well in the quality and style of play.

‘But he himself, and the fans, want to win trophies. Arsene is very focused and very determined. I see him regularly, I see a man who still has as much fire in the belly today as when he started.

‘He wants to win. I believe in his ability and I know for a fact he is trying very hard to improve the squad this year and I hope he does it. People have got to remember what he has achieved. It is easy in life to get rid of people. Then what?

How do you follow Arsene Wenger? That is going to be the trick for the board and it is not going to be an easy exercise.”

Naturally, Dein is going to defend his friend, but I do think the in-fighting among Arsenal fans over Wenger is decidedly unhelpful.  He’s here now, for this season at least, and probably beyond, so let’s get behind him and support him as we would anyone who our crest.

It will certainly help Arsene’s case if he can strengthen the squad in the next few weeks.  Dein stated that he knew for a fact that the manager is trying to add “another two or three players”, and after his comments last week about how “something might happen” in the coming days, I’m expecting speculation both from the fans and the media to run riot.

Today’s rumour of choice, printed in the Daily Mail, The Telegraph, and The Times, is that Arsenal will complete a £12m deal for Alex Chamberlain.  The young winger missed Southampton’s opening weekend victory over Leeds with an ankle injury, and the suggestion is that he may have played his last game for the club.

Whilst Chamberlain clearly has potential, his acquisition is far from a priority this summer.  Granted, he’s been a long-term target, but he remains a long-term prospect.  We’ve got plenty of youthful wide attackers – what we need is an experienced centre-half.

Regardless, part of me suspects this report is a question of several journalists putting two and two together.  Whether or not they’ve made four or five will become clear in the coming days.

As ever, much of the speculation this week will surround the futures of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri.  On Nasri, Arsene said over the weekend:

“I cannot speak about it but there is no major problem between Samir and myself.”

Which does beg the following questions:

1) If there’s nothing to hide, why can’t you speak about it?

2) Does that mean there is a moderate problem, if not a major one?

It does seem like the position on Nasri is shifting.  A couple of weeks ago Arsene was insisting he would stay; now the language has returned to “hoping”.  Maybe the player has made his desire to leave urgently clear.  With £185,000 p/week on offer from Man City, who knows what length a footballer might go to?

Finally, Jack Wilshere is set to be withdrawn from the England squad because he’s injured.  Some papers have tried to turn this in to a story about a “bust up” between Capello and Arsene, but I’m not sure I buy that.  England want the player; he can’t play.  End of.

Right.  Let the frenzied, mouth-frothing, eye-popping, rumour-mongering twitter-nonsensing week commence.


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