Author: Phillip Ekuwem
Calum Chambers had quite the experience last season. Having been shipped out on loan by Arsene Wenger due in large part to the limited opportunities at Arsenal, Chambers found himself caught up in a relegation battle with Middlesbrough.
Amid a dim campaign, the 22-year-old shone brightly at Teeside, often manning Boro’s defence to great effect which eventually prompted the club’s fans to show some affinity towards him despite being a temporary passenger on Boro’s sinking ship.
Chambers was well aware of the fact that his time with Boro would end alongside the season’s denouement regardless of whether they were successful in their pursuit of Premier League survival, or not.
As we all know, they stared relegation in the face until the very end, but Chambers never stopped fighting. His commitment was evident in the way he lined up in Boro’s backline, ready to put his body on the line to thwart incoming attacks.
But there’s only so much one player can do, and whilst it may not be much of a consolation to Boro fans – Chambers did the best he could – he played his part wonderfully, so much so that you’d almost forget he was on loan.
The young English centre-back has now returned to Arsenal, many claim in Eric Dier’s stead, who the Gunners were linked with towards the end of the season.
And whilst that may be true, Chambers’ return to the Gunners still has a certain degree of vagueness about it with only subtle hints suggesting Chambers has a future at Arsenal.
Is Wenger looking to sell him? Ship him out on another loan? Or retain him beyond this summer?
Those are the three questions that generally surround Premier League players who return to their respective parent sides after what one would call a successful loan spell.
For the elite clubs the latter option tends to reads as thus; ‘Retain him beyond this summer for constant inclusion on the bench’.
The amount of competition for limited starting berths often makes it impossible for loan returnees to break into the first team. They almost always take up a role as a substitute or even as a third choice player which ultimately stultifies their growth as footballers.
Chambers needs to avoid that, but he also needs to explore the possibility of staying on if Arsene Wenger is determined to slowly integrate him into the squad as the French tactician is usually not one to go back on his word.
Wenger had nothing but words of praise for Chambers last season. Back in May, the French tactician said, “In a very short time, he (Chambers) has become a very important player for Middlesbrough, they trust him a lot which is very good news for Calum firstly, but also for us too.”
Now we may be guilty of reading too much into Wenger’s words, but the last bit of his statement “for us too” obviously carries a subtle hint that he has plans for Chambers next season.
Wenger should look to retain Chambers beyond this summer, and maybe utilise him as a rotation option next term in a bid to bolster the defence for what is sure to be a tasking season.
Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi are obviously Arsenal’s first choice centre-backs, but should they be met with injuries or fitness problems Rob Holding and Gabriel remain the only viable replacements with Per Mertersacker’s fitness issues and lack of pace posing a huge problem for the Gunners.
Chambers could waltz into Arsenal’s defensive fray next season and provide some much needed cover.
He put in a string of impressive performances at Middlesbrough last season, and if given the opportunity, he’s more than likely to carry his impressive form to the Emirates Stadium.
He brings an almost eerie composure to the pitch which sees him calmly evaluate a host of decisions in a bid to make the right plays.
Chambers is also quite good with the ball at he’s feet, as he’s able to take strides further up the pitch before releasing the ball to one of his teammates with the intent to kick-off an attacking move.
And like most great centre-backs, he seems to relish the physical battles on the pitch. He’s capable of becoming a brick wall when the need arises, whilst also utilising the subtle facets of his skillset to help his side going forward.
Arsenal could really use a player like Chambers next season, hence it’s in their best interest to retain his services and provide him with a path into the first team.