After weeks of speculations about Mata, Alexander Mark David “Alex” Oxlade-Chamberlain has completed his transfer from Southampton to Arsenal. The long awaited signing took place this Monday after the player successfully completed his medical. The transfer fee involved is reported to be around £12 million with the player signing a long term contract. After a year of pursuit, Wenger has finally got his man.
Alex was born in Portsmouth on 15th August 1993. He was brought up in a footballing family. His dad Mark Chamberlain and uncle Neville are retired English International Footballers. Interestingly, they both were former Stoke City players.
Alex joined the Southampton Academy when he was 7 years old. He developed quickly into a versatile attacker, who can play on the wings as well as an attacking midfielder. Alex made his debut for Southampton (2009 – 2010 season) in a match against Huddersfield Town at the age of 16. He became the second youngest player to make an appearance for the Saints, second only to another present Arsenal player, Theo Walcott. He went on to make only one more appearance in that season. 2010-2011 season was the breakthrough year for Alex. He got his first start in a competitive match for the Saints on 10th August, 2010 against Bournemouth. He also scored his first senior goal in that match. Ten days later, he signed his first professional contract after turning 17. His best performance came in a match against Dagenham & Redbridge. Alex scored two goals and made an assist as Southampton won the match 4 – 0. Alex was voted the man of the match.
In the international stage, Alex has made quick progress from the England U-18 to England U-21. His debut match for U-18 was against Poland at home. He was then selected in the squad of England U-19 for a match against Germany, but just a week before the match he was promoted to U-21 and was called up for a friendly against Italy. He was a substitute in the match and was brought on in the second half.
Alex ended the 2010-11′ season with 10 goals and 8 assists in all competition, good return for a 17 year old. He was named in the PFA League One team of the year. His performances didn’t go unnoticed as clubs from all over England began scouting him. He was touted as the best attacking player of his age group in England. Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal were linked with him. Despite all the interests, Alex and his dad always wanted a move to Arsenal. Mark Chamberlain in an interview had said –
“Arsenal, with the manager there, the way they play and how they develop players I think they are the ideal choice”.
Southampton wasn’t ready to let their player go on cheap, after a year of pursuit, Wenger finally got his boy-wonder. Alex said that ‘Wenger’ and ‘Style of play’ was the deciding factor in him choosing Arsenal over Manchester United.
Alex’s biggest strength is his pace. He is often compared with Walcott in that aspect. Being a two footed player, Alex is comfortable on either wings. He is a good crosser of the ball as well. He is known as a quick dribbler and has good control while doing it. He is deadly inside the box and can also play in the hole behind the strikers. Alex also has a very good work rate, and is known to help out his team mates while defending.
Alex has never played above League One, so how he handles the physicality of the Premier League is something to look out for. He has to grow physically stronger in order to survive in this league. Another thing that Alex has to handle is ‘expectations’. When a 17 year old ‘wonder kid’ undergoes a big money transfer to a big club, people expect him to be something special. He will not have faced such high expectations at Southampton. In all possibilities, Gooners might have to wait another year to see the best of Alex.
Possible Impact at Arsenal
Arsenal needed wide players this season, and Alex will certainly provide width. Alex will find it hard to break into the first team this year as new recruits Gervinho and Miyachi will be ahead in the pecking order. He will provide depth to a squad which is already depleted due to injuries. This season might not be the breakthrough year for Alex, he is someone for the future.
Arsenal fans will be bit skeptical about this signing. While there has been uproar from the fans to buy a defender, Wenger brought another ‘young’ and ‘talented’ attacker. Was he someone Arsenal needed? Will he be different to players that are already present? The fact is, Wenger couldn’t have waited for one more season. Alex would have joined either Manchester United or Liverpool if Arsenal wouldn’t have made a bid for him. He is someone with huge potential and it would have been a huge loss for Arsenal to miss out on him. He might not have a huge impact this season, but he is someone to look out for in the coming few years.
Rating : 7/10