This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
After signing as a highly-promising talent from Southampton, Calum Chambers’ career since he burst on to the scene has somewhat stalled. The 24-year-old hit the ground running at the Emirates before form and injuries disrupted his progress, and has spent two campaigns out on loan to sides who have ended up on the wrong side of a relegation battle.
But with the club’s reported transfer budget limited, and the shocking revelation that club captain Laurent Koscielny had refused to go on the pre-season tour to the USA, Chambers may be back in the reckoning at the north London side.
Reports in recent weeks and months have suggested that the Gunners are on the lookout for defensive reinforcements, particularly at centre-back. Unai Emery side’s are close to finalising a deal for St Etienne prospect William Saliba, but the 18-year-old is set to remain in France for the upcoming campaign. It could all mean Chambers has a chance out of nowhere.
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One of the penchants of Emery’s management has been his love for players who can play in a number of different positions and interchange with another. At Fulham last season, Chambers – valued at £12.6m by Transfermarkt – transitioned from a more natural centre-back role into holding midfield and really flourished under the guidance of Scott Parker.
The England international saw his game on the ball develop immeasurably and seemed to take his knowledge of playing at the back into midfield, often stepping in to win the ball back. The former Saints man averaged 2.2 interceptions per game last season whilst his total of 69 put him 13th in the entire Premier League. But just as he can cover the central areas, Chambers is also comfortable at right-back too, racking up 75 games on the right flank throughout his career.
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Indeed, Hector Bellerin’s injury is likely to keep him out for the first weeks of the new season, and whilst Ainsley Maitland-Niles did a fine job deputising for the Spaniard, Chambers’ greater experience in the role simply gives Emery added cover.
So whilst the next few weeks are set to be defined by whether Arsenal end up acquiescing to Koscielny’s wishes of returning to France, Chambers could be the ready-made in-house replacement for the veteran defender.