There is a very strange set of circumstances this season at Arsenal as Arsene Wenger, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil all have to make big contract decisions, while there are many more players also reaching critical point.
One of these is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who is another that hasn’t signed a contract extension and could force a move this summer. Obviously Wenger doesn’t want to lose a part of his “British Core” that actually seems to be improving. “I personally think it is vital that Chamberlain stays at Arsenal,” Wenger said.
“We bought him when he was very young, we have built him up and I think he has a great mentality. I like his mentality and he has a good football brain. It would be a big damage for us to lose this kind of player.”
The Ox has been very impressive when he has been played in central midfield this season, and Wenger believes that that is where his future lies. “I played him [in central midfield] a few times a few years ago and I think he did well,” Wenger added. “When I didn’t play Ozil I had to find a combination with him in central midfield.
“He is offensive. You can see as well he is a guy who can get out of pressure. He has a dribbling skill and acceleration that can get you out of pressure. He can penetrate. In midfield that is important.
“I felt as well sometimes on the flank he is out of the game but in the middle he is more focused. He needs to be involved in the game.
But Le Prof doesn’t yet think he is quite ready to make the position his own yet. “He does not have enough experience in that position. He is a player who likes to take the ball and go at people sometimes. I think that this will get out of his game.
“He can lose balls but defensively he is strong in the challenge when he wants to switch on. He has that kind of robustness to deal with body to body which is very important in the Premier League.”
It is easy to forget how young the Ox is, as it seems he has been at Arsenal forever, but an improving midfielder and England international at his age would command a big price in the transfer market if he decided it was time to go to a bigger club. It is certainly worrying that we could lose him this summer along with our other top stars.
If the Ox means to stay surely he would have re-signed by now?