Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is staying with the club after signing a new three-year contract this offseason. Given his penchant for promoting hard-nosed, attacking play, it comes as little surprise that the club is seeking to acquire Calum Chambers to shore up the defence.
The teenage prodigy from Southampton would provide an immediate boost to the Gunners backfield, with the upside to become one of its cornerstones for years to come. According to Neil Moxley and Tom Hopkinson of the Daily Mirror, Wenger and Arsenal are seeking Chambers, 19, in a transfer deal.
Veteran right-back Bacary Sagna is leaving the Emirates for the reigning English Premier League champions Manchester City. It has to hurt for the Gunners faithful to see one of their premier defenders join up with an EPL rival. However, Wenger and co are hard at work to find a long-term replacement.
Chambers has been rumoured to be in Arsenal's sights for some time, per The Daily Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson. A report in March by The Independent's James Olley suggested £10 million would likely be enough to pull Chambers away from St Mary's Stadium.
Steady play throughout the 2013-14 campaign saw Chambers register a 61 percent success rate in tackling and 79 percent passing accuracy, per Squawka.com.
Thus, he can help keep possession in his side's favor while also starting the attack to the opposite end of the pitch. It's that type of dynamic that would bring excitement and reason for optimism in 2014-15 even without Sagna in the fold. Those aforementioned numbers should only improve with time and continued development, and despite his youth, there is little doubt in Chambers emerging as a massive star.
With that type of production, the prospective price for Wenger isn't all that much to pay. It would be wise to make a splash sooner rather than later. The Telegraph's Wilson notes that the changes this summer could be very gradual for some of Arsenal's other transfer targets:
Southampton felt strongly enough about Chambers to ink him to a four-year contract in July 2013, implying that he'd stay with the Saints for a substantial amount of time. But Arsenal appear determined to wrest him away, and the Gunners seem like a natural stepping stone, with Wenger being the ideal coach to mentor him.
Playing for Wenger is not for the wary or cautious, and what's encouraging about Chambers' style of play is his supreme effort and absence of fear to mix it up in aerial battles.
There already seems to be an air of maturity emanating from Chambers as well as strong leadership qualities to back up his precocious skill set. Following a 1-0 loss to Ukraine to be eliminated in the UEFA European Under-19 Championship, England's team captain, Chambers, was able to see the silver lining, per TheFA.com's Jamie Reid:
Obviously there's a lot to learn from this and that's what [coach] Noel [Blake] has said to us afterwards. Everyone wants to win. But losing is something that everybody has to do as well. Even the top players experience it – but you just have to learn from it and see how you get on for next season and push on.
Although it would have been nice to have Sagna stick around and advise Chambers as he progresses, this situation allows Chambers to learn more through experience than vicarious tutelage. It should enhance the time he would have had on the pitch had Sagna remained. As a result, Chambers is bound to accelerate his ascent toward his potential, outweighing the sparse setbacks along the way.
Having already experienced the EPL and done well in Southampton, the expectations will inevitably increase with Arsenal. As long as Chambers can maintain his form and poise, though, he should live up to the hype if and when he lands with the Gunners. The key for Wenger, which has been easier said than done in the past, is to make good on his transfer targets and lock them down.
Chambers has all the tools to continue shining in the Premier League. It's up to the Gunners to groom him and ensure he stays on his current promising path. Especially if Chambers doesn't command much more than his likely market value of £10 million, Arsenal must make the valuable investment.