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Why Arsenal Made the Right Move in Signing Calum Chambers

James McNicholas@@jamesmcnicholasFeatured ColumnistAugust 14, 2015

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 26:  Nicklas Bendtner of Wolfsburg and Calum Chambers of Arsenal during the Emirates Cup match between Arsenal and VfL Wolfsburg at Emirates Stadium on July 26, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images).
Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images

It was something of a surprise when Arsenal paid £16 million to prise Calum Chambers from Southampton last summer.

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.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 26: Calum Chambers of Arsenal outjumps Max Kruse during the Emirates Cup match between Arsenal and VfL Wolfsburg at the Emirates Stadium on July 26, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)
David Rogers/Getty Images

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.

Arsenal's Calum Chambers (L) and Everton's Arouna Kone tussle for the ball during the Barclays Asia Trophy football match at Singapore National Stadium in Singapore on July 18, 2015.  AFP PHOTO / MOHD FYROL        (Photo credit should read MOHD FYROL/AFP/
MOHD FYROL/Getty Images

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.

James McNicholas is Bleacher Report's lead Arsenal correspondent and is following the club from a London base throughout 2015/16. Follow him on Twitter here.

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