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Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will reportedly tell Arsenal he is ready to quit the club this summer, rather than sign a new contract. The versatile England international could generate interest from Premier League trio Liverpool, Manchester City and champions Chelsea.
A report from Jonathan Northcroft of the Sunday Times has revealed how Oxlade-Chamberlain “has been weighing up his future while on holiday and his inclination is that a move would be best if he is to deliver on his rich potential.”
Northcroft also detailed Liverpool’s interest: “Oxlade-Chamberlain, 23, is a key target for Liverpool, where Jurgen Klopp is a confirmed admirer of his energy, explosiveness and ability to perform a variety of attacking roles.”
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Arsenal have been trying to offer Oxlade-Chamberlain a new contract. However, the player is said to be deeply frustrated by Arsenal’s lack of action on a new contract, according to John Cross of the Daily Mirror.
Cross noted how the player with just one year left on his contract expected to be offered a new deal by now. Meanwhile, Jeremy Wilson of the Daily Telegraph reported how the Gunners have been planning fresh terms worth £100,000 per week for Oxlade-Chamberlain.
As Wilson also pointed out, the absence of a contract offer isn’t the only issue facing Oxlade-Chamberlain at Arsenal. There is also the matter of where the 23-year-old fits in the team: “Liverpool would be willing to play him in the centre but there is deeper competition at Arsenal, with Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey having finished the season in those two positions and Mohamed Elneny and Francis Coquelin also pushing for more game time.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain has long expressed a desire to operate in central midfield for the Gunners. It’s where manager Arsene Wenger also sees the former Southampton prospect’s future.
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Even so, Wenger has most often played Oxlade-Chamberlain wide during his six years in north London. Positions on the flanks suit a player with direct pace, a solid work rate and underrated delivery from wide areas.
Those qualities were obvious when Oxlade-Chamberlain thrived as a wing-back during the final two months of the 2016/17 season, after Wenger had switched the Gunners to a 3-4-2-1 formation.
It’s not to say the player hasn’t impressed centrally. Oxlade-Chamberlain was superb as a playmaker from the middle when Arsenal beat Southampton 5-0 away in the FA Cup fourth round, en route to winning the famous trophy a record 13th time in 2017.
Oxlade-Chamberlain showcased a terrific range of passing from central areas, but it was a short-lived cameo in the position he prefers.
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More than where he plays, injuries and inconsistency have done more to stunt Oxlade-Chamberlain’s Arsenal career. If Wenger could get £20-25 million for a player who still doesn’t command a regular place in the starting XI, he should take it.
Premier League Rivals Want Arsenal Striker
Arsenal’s London rivals West Ham United reportedly want to sign striker Olivier Giroud this summer. A report from Sky Sports News HQ detailed why West Ham are keen on target man Giroud: “The Hammers are keen to bolster their attacking options this summer and are also interested in Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City), Michy Batshuayi (Chelsea), Adama Traore (Middlesbrough) and Henry Onyekuru (KAS Eupen).”
The report also explained why the Gunners may be prepared to sell the attacker who joined them from Montpellier in 2012: “Sky Sports News HQ understands Wenger is currently looking to freshen up his own attacking options and is attempting to sign Kylian Mbappe (Monaco) and Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon).”
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Wenger’s mooted pursuit of Giroud’s fellow France internationals, Alexandre Lacazette and Kylian Mbappe, speaks volumes about the changes the Gunners want to make in attack this summer.
Specifically, Wenger appears to be targeting more pace along the forward line. He is keen on strikers who can stretch defences in behind.
By contrast, Giroud is a classic hold-up player, at his best when playing with his back to goal and combining with others via clever flicks and knock-downs. In many ways, the 30-year-old’s particular skills are ideal in a supplementary role.
Giroud proved his chops as a plan B during the 2016/17 season by establishing a niche for scoring off the substitutes bench. Although he has often been criticised for his finishing, Giroud is still among the most prolific in England’s top flight during the last four seasons, per Squawka Football:
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Most Premier League goals scored since 2013/14:
Sergio Agüero (87)
Harry Kane (78)
Romelu Lukaku (68)
Olivier Giroud (58)
As a striker who offers a possession-based Arsenal team a more direct threat in attack, Giroud is still a valuable presence in the squad. If he can be convinced to continue in a supporting role, he is a player Wenger should keep.