Arsene Wenger has stated that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will remain at Arsenal this season, amidst reports of growing interest from cross town rivals Chelsea FC
Speaking in his pre-match press conference ahead of the Gunners’ trip to Stoke City, the 67-year-old revealed that he wanted Alex to stay at Arsenal for a long time and he will keep the Englishman at the Emirates for the rest of this season ‘no matter what’.
When asked why he thought that he could keep the 24-year-old for the remainder of the season, Wenger said: “Personally, because I rate him highly and he’s one of the players who is on his way up. In the last year, he has made huge progress and I want him to stay here for a long time.
It was recently reported that Chamberlain, who has only one season left on his current deal, was demanding £150,000 in weekly wages amidst interest from Premier League champions Chelsea, who are reportedly pursuing the versatile midfielder.
The England international has been a long term target for Chelsea and has strongly been linked with a move to Stamford Bridge for the second summer in a row. Chelsea are in desperate need of reinforcements at wingback and midfield and Chamberlain is seen as a good option.
He’s young, can be deployed almost anywhere in midfield and presents a homegrown option, something that Chelsea are currently short of in their squad after the departure of John Terry and numerous other youngsters such as Nathan Ake, Nathaniel Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.
Loftus-Cheek has been sent on loan, while Chalobah and Nemanja Matic left on a permanent basis. Summer signing Tiemoue Bakayoko is currently injured and that only leaves Conte with only Cesc Fabregas, N’golo Kante and youngster Kyle Scott, who will likely never feature for the Blues.
As for wingback, Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses, who emerged as surprise packages last season took the English top flight by storm and became an integral part of Conte’s Premier League winning side and were nearly ever present in the starting XI.
However as of now, they are the only players in the squad who can play in those positions. Besides being able to play as central midfielder, Chamberlain has shown toward the end of last season that he can play as a wingback as well after Wenger switched to a 3-man defence.
These qualities would no doubt be something that Conte would put to good use in severely depleted squad, but Wenger’s latest statements will surely have come as blow to the English champions, who are fast running out of options and we may see very well them shell out vast amounts to acquire some players on deadline day, similar to the summer of 2016.
The Blues have also been linked with the likes of AS Monaco’s Djibril Sidibe, Valencia’s Joao Cancelo and Danny Rose from arch rivals Tottenham Hotspur amongst others, in recent weeks and it will be interesting to see who Chelsea pursue next in the coming days.