Despite the departure of Bacary Sagna, the Gunners already had three right-backs on the books in the form of Mathieu Debuchy, Carl Jenkinson and Hector Bellerin. However, Arsene Wenger had a vision of converting Chambers to a centre-half. It’s that prospect that means his signing remains a valuable one.
Until last season, almost all of Chambers’ senior football had been played at full-back. Having been a central-midfield player at the youth level, he broke into the senior Southampton setup as a right-back, impressing with an eye-catching display against Arsenal in January 2014.
However, as soon as he arrived at Arsenal, he began the process of adapting to a new role. In the Community Shield, he starred as a central defender against Manchester City. It was immediately apparent that this was a player with huge potential to shine at the heart of the defence.
His form even earned him a call-up to the senior England squad, but his good run did not last. Inexperience eventually caught up with Chambers, although it was notable that his trickiest games came when restored to right-back. Speaking about his international call-up to Matt Law of the Telegraph, Wenger explained:
It was a bit early. You remember the fact that he had a difficult time at Swansea. Now imagine that happens to him with England in a big game. It's terrible afterwards. You carry that with you your whole life. You have to be equipped to deal with that kind of pressure.
It was not unhelpful. It shows him that if you do well then you are rewarded, but he was not completely there experience-wise to deal with that.
Those difficult experiences do not make Chambers a busted flush. He has the talent and personality to recover and can surely still go on to fulfil his potential.
Since Chambers endured that difficult spell last winter, he’s largely been absent from the Arsenal team. Bellerin has crept ahead of him in the pecking order at full-back, and Gabriel Paulista’s arrival has shunted him down the hierarchy of centre-halves.
That time out of the limelight could prove beneficial. Chambers is still learning his trade—and at a new position—and needs to be given the time to develop. Opportunities in the domestic cups are an appropriate step for a player of his age and trajectory.
With players like Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny around him, Chambers should be able to acquire the skills necessary to thrive as a Premier League centre-half.
Wenger still seems convinced that’s where his future will lie, as he told the Telegraph:
First his stature. The fact he is intelligent and reads the game well, the fact that he's more at ease in the middle. On the flank, today you need more pace, more change of direction, more agility. He has the stamina, the power and the quality to be a central midfielder or a central defender.
At right-back, his lack of acceleration can be exposed. However, he has the composure needed to be an outstanding central defender. It’s time for Chambers to forego the flank and settle in the middle. That is where his true quality will eventually be revealed, and the wisdom of Wenger’s signing will become apparent.