Arsenal's Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is reportedly "fed up" with his lack of playing time and is concerned it could affect his chances of going to Euro 2016 with England.
According to Mark Irwin of the Sun, the 22-year-old has largely been used from the bench, having failed to nail down a starting berth.
The youngster has made 30 appearances this season, but he has completed just five matches. Oxlade-Chamberlain started the Gunners' most recent outing away at Bournemouth and doubled their lead shortly after Mesut Ozil put them in front.
Bleacher Report's Sam Tighe hailed the goal as the England international rifled the ball in off the post from a tight angle:
Sam Tighe @stighefootball
Seriously, what a finish from Oxlade-Chamberlain. #AFC2/7/2016, 1:55:08 PM
As Sky Sports revealed, the goal signalled the end of a lengthy goal drought for the midfielder:
Sky Sports Statto @SkySportsStatto
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's goal ended a run of 37 PL apps without scoring, since in a 1-1 draw v Spurs (H), Sept 20142/7/2016, 2:00:46 PM
He was still substituted midway through the second half, though. Per Sky Sports (h/t Goal.com), Gunners boss Arsene Wenger said: "He has huge talent. He works very hard now and is focused. I felt he was a bit tired in the second half and could not sustain the level he had in the first half completely, but with his power and technique I expect him to score goals."
With the youngster having to compete with the likes of Ozil, Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Alexis Sanchez for a starting berth, Oxlade-Chamberlain needs to show he can be incisive—as he displayed at Bournemouth—to earn more significant game time.
According to Irwin, Wenger said:
I think Alex is too harsh with himself and he allows himself to get too down.
It’s not so much a lack of confidence, it’s more he has such a high expectation level that he is very demanding of his own performances.
But he is only 22 and we forget these guys are still very, very young. At the start of your career you are a talent and then you become more efficient.
Alex is now getting to the age where he will be most efficient as a player. But an automatic choice does not exist in our job, especially at big clubs.
The midfielder is still young and remains a promising talent, and there's still plenty of time for him to earn a place in the England squad and more regular football at Arsenal.
To do so, he cannot afford to endure similar goal droughts, as the only way he'll rival his competitors and start ahead of them—and see out the game—is by consistently producing the goods.
Per Irwin, he still has over two years left on his contract. Wenger has shown in the past he's willing to stick with players, and Oxlade-Chamberlain is a useful squad player to have around, so expect him to leave only if he pushes for a move himself.
In other news, the Gunners may need to replace both Mikel Arteta and Tomas Rosicky in the summer. According to Wayne Veysey of Football Insider, both players are considering hanging up their boots—the former, in particular, having begun work on his coaching badges.
Arteta will be 34 by the end of the campaign while Rosicky is already 35, and both have struggled with injury problems of late, racking up just 386 and 19 minutes of playing time this season, respectively.
Though the Gunners still have a wealth of central midfield options with the likes of Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin and Mohamed Elneny in the squad—not to mention Ramsey and Oxlade-Chamberlain, whose future lies there, according to Wenger (per Irwin), Arsenal may be forced into the transfer market in the summer.
Equally, their departures could represent an excellent chance for Oxlade-Chamberlain to stake a better claim in the squad—he just needs to take it.
Stats via Transfermarkt, unless otherwise noted.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!