For a long time Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has looked like one of England’s few exciting players. He is a fans’ favourite, both at Arsenal and for the Three Lions, and could easily be a mainstay of the England squad for many years to come. At the age of 22, the world is very much at his feet.
However, a mixture of injuries and a talented squad at Arsenal means that the Ox isn’t being utilised to the extent he could be, with his place often upon the bench. With his growth as a player at risk, should he look to move elsewhere?
Southampton were interested in the youngster in the January transfer window just gone, yet no move materialised meaning that the player will have to wait until the summer to get away. When you consider the players ahead of ‘The Ox’ at Arsenal, it would be surprise if he is considering a move.
Players like Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Flamini, Francis Coquelin and now Mohamed Elneny all fit in at centre midfield, where Arsene Wenger seemingly wants to play Oxlade-Chamberlain. The winger also has competition out wide, with Wenger buying Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil since his move, as well as regulars like Theo Walcott further keeping him out the first-team.
Although it creates a competition for places, ‘The Ox’ often seems to be the one left out. His father Mark Chamberlain stated before his move to Arsenal that he ‘wanted his son to get the next stage of his development’, yet you feel that in order to progress he should move on. Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, they are all teams that could offer the ex-Saints man a platform.
He could easily fit into any team due to his versatility, allowing him to be deployed as a winger, a centre mid, a central attacking midfielder and even a ‘No.10’. Any top team would want a player like that, and he certainly gives his all for the club.
In their recent FA Cup game against Burnley, Oxlade-Chamberlain was behind all the attacking play, setting up Sanchez for the winning goal. When he is on top of his game he can be unstoppable, yet he can also frustrate himself by being poor: something emphasised through Arsenal fans being on his back when he misplaced a pass. With more development and game time, he can build upon the negative aspects of his game.
With the EUROs ahead, the Ox will probably be in the England squad, yet won’t be a first-teamer. He has the quality to be, but because he isn’t given the opportunities he hasn’t yet realised that potential. For this player, a move away to a team where he can be guaranteed action is essential, and then he can truly become one of English football’s most exciting players.
Whether or not that is a move to Southampton, or somewhere like Manchester United, where has can really be appreciated is yet to be seen. One thing is for certain though: that when ‘The Ox’ gets going, he will go far.