Calum Chambers showed plenty of potential during his first taste of Premier League action last season with Southampton. The teenager's success caught the eye of Arsenal, and the Gunners swooped in to make him the latest player to join the exodus at St. Mary's.
The England youth international made 22 league appearances for Southampton last season. As with any young player, there were some expected ups and downs, but his overall performance was extremely promising for a defender who won't turn 20 until next January.
Originally a midfielder, Chambers carved out a niche for himself on the right side of defense. His willingness to move forward along with the playmaking ability developed during his time playing in the middle of the pitch helped him jump-start plenty of Saints attacks.
Now he moves to Arsenal, while the Gunners also brought in Mathieu Debuchy to help fill the void at right-back left by Bacary Sagna.
After the deal was completed, he spoke with the club's official site about the signing and why he was intrigued by the Gunners.
"I am so happy to be signing for Arsenal," he said. "They are a team I have much admired for their playing style, and a team who have been one of the top sides in Europe for many years. I'm looking forward to joining up with my new team-mates today and beginning preparation for the season ahead."
The presence of Debuchy, a reliable veteran coming off a terrific season with Newcastle, makes the short-term outlook a little more complicated for Chambers.
It's a situation where his versatility is going to help him greatly. Young players making their first move to a marquee club often get lost in the shuffle because they only excel in one area, and it's often filled by a more experienced player.
That's when the halting of development becomes a concern. However, Chambers' ability to play in the midfield and at right-back while also having the tools necessary to play in the center of defense should ensure he doesn't fall into the bench abyss.
Dominic Fifield of The Guardian reports the rising star has been told he'll get plenty of first-team chances and also passed along some of the financial details of the move:
Calum Chambers has been assured he will be granted significant opportunities in the Arsenal first team in the new season after the England under-19 international completed his transfer from Southampton in a deal that could end up costing £16 million.
He probably won't get consistent playing time at right-back unless Debuchy suffers an injury. Instead, he'll likely rotate between three or four different positions in the midfield and defense to make sure he doesn't spend extended stretches on the sidelines.
Chambers has earned those opportunities. WhoScored.com provided one of the more impressive stats from his first season of Premier League action:
As the focus begins to shift toward the future, there's a good chance he will end up settling at center-back. His combination of size, athleticism and aerial ability make him the perfect prospect to mold into a stalwart defender.
His only chances to play the position this campaign will probably come against lesser opponents or in domestic cup competitions. He simply doesn't have enough experience to be expected to handle the Manchester City or Chelsea attacks quite yet.
At the same time, he arrives to Arsenal during what's likely to become a transition period at the back. Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny, Nacho Monreal and Debuchy are all at least 28 years old.
That means by the time Chambers is ready to hit his peak, he should slide right into a starting role. By that point, he will have plenty of Premier League experience after a couple of seasons of filling different roles for Arsene Wenger.
A back line that features Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson on the outside with Chambers as one of the center-backs has plenty of upside.
Arsenal paid a sizable fee for him given his lack of match time at the senior level. However, if everything progresses as expected over the next two or three seasons, there's a good chance the deal will end up looking like a bargain in the long run.
Expectations should be kept firmly within reason early in his career at the Emirates Stadium. He's still young and will be wearing several different hats at the outset, which means mistakes are inevitable.
That said, as long as he keeps trending in the right direction throughout that growth process, there's plenty of reason for optimism about the future of Chambers and the Arsenal back line.
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