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Jack Pitt-Brooke wrote on The Independent yesterday that Arsenal would listen to offers for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the summer, citing his lack of progress since his £12 million move from Southampton in 2011.
Though the source comes as far less credible than John Cross and Amy Lawrence, the report does highlight the stunted improvement of yet another Arsenal’s potential world-class talent.
Having scored 14 goals and collected 21 assists in 84 competitive starts for Arsenal, Oxlade-Chamberlain appears good on the paper. However, Arsenal-esque inconsistency and an unhelpful injury record has been derailing his chances of nailing a starting berth in the Arsenal team.
After five helter-skelter seasons in the red-and-white strip, what does his future hold?
Crowded with clones – Walcott, Campbell and Oxlade-Chamberlain
With Alexis Sanchez being undroppable, Arsenal have three players in Theo Walcott, Joel Campbell and Oxlade-Chamberlain battling out for a place in the line-up. Much to the dismay of Arsenal faithful and the manager, neither has a clear edge over the other two, and a central midfielder in Aaron Ramsey ousts all three from the starting eleven in the perfect world.
With Tomas Rosicky, Mathieu Flamini, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Debuchy leaving in the summer, offloading another player, let alone one of the abovementioned versatile trio, will likely be the last entry in Arsene Wenger’s summer to-do list.
However, Arsenal need a right-winger with Walcott’s pace, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s strength, Campbell’s commitment and exceptional shooting to be on the same level as the other title contenders, and as things stand, Arsenal are struck with three clones aged between 23 and 27, whose presence will hardly be felt if they leave.
The curious case of Oxlade-Chamberlain
Lauded for his technical ability upon arrival, the England international has since been lambasted for his appalling first touch, decision-making, finishing, movement and composure; however, his potential remains unquestionable.
Despite getting a lot of stick for a general lack of improvement, he managed to demote a hardworking Campbell and an established Walcott to the bench just a few games into his return from injury this season.
Though it can be argued that he would eventually come good with a run of games, his presence in the team hampers the progress of Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Alex Iwobi, whom Wenger would otherwise afford much-deserved first-team minutes.
Arsenal are now in a delicate position where they can neither offload nor keep him, Campbell or Walcott.
Loan move to La Liga
Wenger axing a young player for an injury-influenced dip has never been heard of, and, thus, Arsenal transfer listing someone of Oxlade-Chamberlain’s calibre and age is highly unlikely.
However, given his technical shortcomings, a loan move to the highly technical Primera Division could prompt the French manager to label him ‘like a new signing’ at the end of his loan spell and rightly so.
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
Follow Praveen on Twitter @49Praveen
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