Pretty much everywhere in the known universe is reporting this morning (including the BBC) that Arsenal will sign Southampton full back Calum Chambers within the next few days after he (allegedly) underwent a medical with the club late this week for a fee of anywhere between £7m and £16m (depending on your source of football information). But whilst various places are reporting that Chambers signing will spell the end for Carl Jenkinson as an Arsenal player – I’m personally not convinced.
A quick glance at the defenders in the first team squad list on Arsenal.com tells a big story. Arsenal are light at the back (Djourou still showing??) And with Mertesacker, Koscielny and (the injury prone) Vermaelen the only recognised centre halves at the club at the end of the season, Arsenal were lucky not to have more issues (especially given Arsenal’s injury history). But with it also looking increasingly likely that Vermaelen will look to leave the club this summer (with Manchester United and Barcelona being linked with moves) – Arsenal’s defensive ranks will be further depleted. But that is where Chambers comes in.
With only 24 Southampton appearances to his name so far, Chambers is already an England youth international and is already being widely tipped to be a future full England international (despite his relative inexperience). Perhaps crucially as well – despite playing for the majority of his career (so far) as a right back, Chambers is also extremely versatile and can play anywhere across the back 4, as a holding midfielder (another position that Arsenal are short) or even further forward. Chambers can also play with both feet and at 19 years of age is young enough to be able to adapt. Despite his obvious potential and talent though, Chambers is still raw, and like Jenkinson is a fair distance from being a complete player.
So with both Jenkinson and Chambers on the books and the obvious similarities between the two, could it be in the long term that Wenger doesn’t view Chambers / Jenkinson as a right back (especially given Wenger’s backing of Jenkinson after the signing of Debuchy)? Could they co-exist at Arsenal? If I’m honest I think that it is much more likely that one of the pair will initially adapt to take the 4th centre half position at the club (like Sagna did last season) with another player brought in should (/when) Vermaelen leaves. Or even perhaps on the slightly more extreme side – could Chambers in fact be brought in as Vermaelen’s replacement?
Obviously this is just an opinion – but I’d be very surprised if Jenkinson’s future was as clear cut as the media is currently making out. I wouldn’t rule out a loan (even for Chambers) – but long term I think his future is still with Arsenal. And also don’t be surprised if you see Jenkinson play part of the game tonight as a centre half….and if that happens – you heard it here first.
Oh – and in terms of fee I’d imagine that ‘rising to £16m’ is a possibility – but I’d be shocked if that was the ‘actual’ price (despite the English premium)