In a somewhat unexpected move, Arsenal have confirmed the signing of Southampton starlet Calum Chambers in a deal reportedly worth £11 million, rising to £16 million, as per Dominic Fifield of The Guardian.
The versatile 19-year-old Englishman, a product of the Southampton academy, becomes the latest in a long line of players to exit St. Mary's Stadium, following Luke Shaw, Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren and manager Mauricio Pochettino out of the door for combined fees of around £105 million, via Transfermarkt.co.uk.
Despite having just 18 Premier League starts to his name, Chambers evidently impressed Arsene Wenger to the extent that the Frenchman paid more for Chambers than he ever has for a defender—previously the speculated £12 million move for Mathieu Debuchy, as per the Press Association (h/t The Guardian), for whom Chambers is widely expected to understudy for the first few years of his Arsenal career.
Chambers' versatility played a large part in Wenger's gamble, with the Frenchman also emphasising his belief that the Petersfield-born Chambers is a player for the future.
"He can play at centre-back, right-back and central midfield," Wenger told the Press Association (h/t The Guardian). "I hope he will gives competition to the players in these three areas...I was ready to take a gamble because he is a player for the future."
Chambers' arrival will have numerous knock-on effects in the Arsenal camp.
Most obviously, 22 year-old Carl Jenkinson looks likely to leave the club on loan to gain first-team experience, with West Ham looking the most likely destination, per John Percy of The Telegraph. Regrettably, the lifelong Gunners fan appears surplus to requirements at the Emirates as he falls to third in the right-back pecking order. A marked improvement in the technical side of his game will be required if Jenkinson is to muscle his way into the Arsenal first-team.
This move may also preclude the Gunners from the big-name central midfield signing many fans are demanding. Sami Khedira, Lars Bender and Morgan Schneiderlein have been heavily linked to the North London club, per Jamie Sanderson of Metro, recently but given Chambers' price-tag, it seems likely Wenger will seek to give the young Englishman as much game time as possible. The youngster’s versatility highlights him as an obvious candidate to act as cover for Mikel Artera and Mathieu Flamini in the holding midfield role.
Will Arsenal make more signings this summer?
Additionally, Chambers' arrival may well signal an end to Arsenal's spending in this transfer window. Arsene Wenger has cautioned against adding too many players in one transfer window, saying it risks destabilising the squad, and the proof is in the pudding—just ask Tottenham! Chambers has become Arsenal's fourth signing of the transfer window after Alexis Sanchez, Debuchy and David Ospina, and unless there are departures, it's hard to see any more transfer activity from the Gunners.
Even as things are, few Arsenal fans have grounds for complaint. The areas of the squad that required urgent attention have been addressed with a swiftness and decisiveness that the club has been sorely lacking in recent years. It truly seems as though the financial constraints that shackled the club to the bargain bin section of the transfer market for nearly a decade have finally been cast off.
As Wenger noted, Chambers is a signing for the future—but a future that will not contain the Frenchman. With Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs, Chambers will form the backbone of the Arsenal team well into Wenger's retirement. In this sense, his signing is an atypically expensive, but typically Wengerian signing: One last one for the future; one final bow.
Don't be surprised if it works out.