Were Arsenal right to sell Ox?
Despite adding a top class striker in Alexandre Lacazette and the Bundesliga left-back of the year, Sead Kolasinac, to many, Arsenal’s transfer window was another disappointing failure. Perhaps the most worrying aspect of Arsenal’s transfer window was the uncertainty surrounding key players heading in to the final few days. Mustafi looked like he was about to make a bizarre cut price move to Inter Milan and Alexis was almost certain to join Manchester City for what would have surely been an undervaluation irrespective of the cash/player equation.
Selling Mustafi would have been an act of self-sabotage after Gabriel was allowed to return to Spain earlier in the window especially as no replacement was seriously mooted at the time. Arsenal created the perception that players might be incoming on the final day with record bids for Thomas Lemar – a player whose signing would surely have sent the odds on the Paddy Power app of Arsenal winning the league plummeting a bit. Instead the window shut with Arsenal somehow looking weaker although no truly influential player left the club. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the transfer window was to see that Joel Campbell is somehow still on the books.
Gabriel, Gibbs and Lucas were useful squad players, ones we will surely rue letting go if an injury crisis strikes, but despite being a relative starter compared others who departed the club I suspect no regrets will be felt for selling Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. By all accounts Arsenal managed to get a ridiculously good fee for a ridiculously ineffective player. For all his raw talent and explosive playing style The Ox has contributed little on the pitch in 6 years at Arsenal, injuries notwithstanding.
Of the highly-rated ‘British core’, Oxlade-Chamberlain was the player who it was felt had the greatest potential. Kieran Gibbs was a faithful servant who has understandably moved on in hopes of becoming a regular starter as he enters what should be his peak. Carl Jenkinson has gone out on loan again to a team more suited to his level. Jack Wilshere has failed miserably to live up to expectations and perhaps will never reach his potential. Whilst Aaron Ramsey and Theo Walcott bounce between influential and hindrance.
Last season Ox seemed to have found a little bit of end product and latterly excelled as an auxiliary wing-back, even putting in some dominating performances on route to winning the FA Cup. However, the former Southampton player made it clear he wanted to play in a central role – and it seemed his manager agreed that his future was in the middle of the park. So why sell him if his future is so bright?
Despite his publicly stated belief that Ox’s future was in central midfield the manager persisted with playing Aaron Ramsey, Granit Xhaka, Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin and even Alex Iwobi ahead of him. Clearly the manager was not as convinced as he claimed and it’s not hard to see why. Oxlade-Chamberlain’s stats are awful. 9 club goals and 14 assists in 6 years hardly suggests he is a trailblazer. In fact, Mesut Özil created more chances in three game than Alex did in his entire Arsenal career. That’s just not acceptable even for someone with his injury record.
Theo Walcott was much maligned for years because he “lacked passion” yet has consistently proven himself to be an effective player with a goals/assists per 90 ratio that surpasses such legends as Freddie Ljungberg. On the whole he has played the same positions as Chamberlain.
It’s not just about statistics though. Chamberlain is a great cause of frustration for many Arsenal supporters with his unique ability to put himself under pressure, make the wrong decision 9/10 and run into a blind alley at will. Perhaps Ox will thrive at Liverpool under a different manager but I will not hold my breath. Far worse players have developed better than he has under Arsène Wenger.
Arsenal’s summer business has left a lot to be desired but props where they are due; this is an excellent deal. The Gunners have brought in £35m, freed up £80,000 per week from the wage bill and created space in their squad to develop the insanely talented Reiss Nelson.
I doubt Oxlade-Chamberlain will be missed but I still wish him well. Arsenal were completely right to sell him but perhaps they should have done it a little sooner.
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