Chelsea In For Ox? Is It A Bad Move For Arsenal?

Strangely for a unilateral decision, it makes a lot of sense and may help the English game. The Premier League will end the domestic transfer window before the first ball of the new season is kicked. An end to the speculation which dogs not just Arsenal but most other top flight clubs. Until FIFA catches up, the speculation over players joining the likes of PSG and Barcelona won’t cease.

Is it a good idea? There’s some merit in it if you’re a smaller club whose stars are being cherry-picked by the bigger fish in this rancid pond. It’s likely to see domestic transfer fees rise; the shortened window will focus minds and puts selling clubs in a stronger position. It won’t for a few seasons at least, be a buyers market.

The obvious danger is that the hard-to-shift-now players will become even harder to shift. Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson are the obvious examples, but the same issue applies to the young Guns who won’t make the grade. Does it improve their situation or make it worse? Or no change at all? They can’t attract new employers with the major obstacle remaining despite this rule change: wages.

For club managers, it presents some security but not entirely. The continent’s bigger fish can play a longer game, waiting until this deadline passes before moving to disrupt potential Champions League rivals. Hopefully, UEFA will be quickly encouraged to follow suit. The prospect of this being followed rapidly by FIFA seems fanciful at present.

And what of the nefarious loan system? Will they address the iniquitous nature of stockpiling of talent? That may not receive such universal backing from the clubs.

Looking After No. 1

One player whose future would be resolved by now under these new rules is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. There are reports that Chelsea are preparing a £35m bid for the midfielder. Wing back. Winger. Whatever he is. Therein is the problem. His pace naturally lent itself to the wide role but versatility has proven his downfall. Not so much a square peg in round holes but a round peg of varying sizes fitting into whichever hole is empty.

But the Ox is divisive. His future is split between those who would happily sell and those who see a future for him at the club. Every player has his price and £35m works for me in this case, so long as we reinvest to improve the midfield. Ox wants a career in the centre of midfield. Will he get it at Chelsea? Will his situation necessarily improve at Stamford Bridge? Even with that fee, there’s no guarantee of first team football. Sentiment is in short supply in London’s Russian enclave.

Arguments based around his statistics are built on shifting sands. On the face of it, they aren’t impressive but don’t factor in the high number of substitute appearances nor the various roles he has played in the side, notably the full back / wing back positions. Not so much “Lies, damn lies and statistics” as obscuring the truth.

If the Price is Right

But at the heart of all this is the fee. You cannot refuse that sort of money for Ox as he is now. We’ve lived off potential for a decade. Project Youth – a pejorative term now – had potential at the heart of its flawed execution undermined a concept which almost worked.  Had the youth received better leadership, they would have done so. As it was, events at St Andrews reverberated through the hearts and minds of the squad, diminishing us on the pitch.

We’re still paying for the legacy of the project even now. The high salaries paid to the likes of Gibbs, Jenkinson and Wilshere make them expensive acquisitions for suitors not just in fees but also on the wage bill. No change in the transfer window date will alter that.

For supporters, the sale of Oxlade-Chamberlain would represent something of a watershed. He wants more playing time and a future in the centre of midfield; he’s not going to get that here or at Stamford Bridge without performances to back him up.

Ox was a relatively expensive acquisition, not a product of our academy. The ruthlessness of clubs and players is something supporters don’t find an easy accommodation. Our hearts and souls are invested in Arsenal Football Club; should we reciprocate their view of us and act like ‘customers’? If we do, football changes for ever.

UItimately, every player and a club has a cycle. Do we need to be quick to recognise when they end? Not in the heat of the moment, when the natural reaction is that “he’s sh…” (you know how that ends) but in the natural train of events. The days of one-club men, of long-serving servants is over; the modern game lends itself to a mercenary attitude. Not quite ‘Jon Stark – Boots for hire’ but it’s the path we’re treading.

Dad’s Jukebox

Later today, the next instalment of ‘Times of our Lives’ will be posted on Dad’s Jukebox but other than that, that’s it for today. £35m? Ox’s price is right…

’til Tomorrow.

50 thoughts on “Chelsea In For Ox? Is It A Bad Move For Arsenal?

  1. Trouble is, YW, that I don’t see much likelihood of any replacement coming in.

    With the club seemingly content to let players who should go hang on there and stink the place out and no urgency in signing another midfielder, the ‘winds of change’ and turning to a summer zephyr.

  2. Agreed – sell if we upgrade. Not sure there is confidence that we will.

    IF Lemar is an upgrade – and the clubs were anywhere near an agreement, then this might give enough dosh to get it over the line…..but do we need a tricksy winger type ?

  3. As Bob points out, your proviso is the key issue. Will AFC, can AFC, find and buy a midfielder in the brief period remaining?

  4. A really interesting Post, YW, and highlights some of the problems in setting ‘red lines’ for players salaries, for at core it reverts back to those making judgements on player worth.

    You mentioned Ox and he is an example of how this conundrum can play out.

    There are differing views, as ever, as to why a player wants to move, or does not want to move, and in the Ox’s case some choose to believe he is keen to move to get more minutes on the pitch, (unlikely in my view) or that he is currently earning some £60K per week (seems the going rate for him and others at his level) but it is alleged the Chavs think he is grossly underpaid, and are prepared to pay him £120K a week.

    To be candid, with Chinese, American, Russian and even British multibillionaires owning all the Premiership clubs, these sums and/or the difference betwixt £60K and £120K is chump money, and should not be a limiter to Arsenal keeping him — except Arsenal are more the exception in these matters, and have only belatedly moved to offer Sanchez and perhaps Özil the salaries they are demanding – and probably too late – yet other clubs are prepared to pay the contract price (in Oxo’s case for example) some £35m for the transfer + the £120K salary – whereas Mr Wenger is only being asked to authorise and extra £60k per week. (I know to us that is a king’s ransom, but it is football Jim, just not as we know it.) 🙂

    Hard to understand why the Arsenal cannot see that is today’s reality.

    If Arsenal pay up, and he is a success, as Wenger has said he thinks he will be, all is well, on the other hand – if they paid Ox the money, and he turned out to be a pooper, everyone will say “why did we pay a crap player all that money?”

    Of course hindsight is wonderful – and we all have plenty of that.

  5. As a related matter, it is all very well saying let’s sell Ox for £35m, (and I am not sure why that should matter to fans) it is as has been said above only worthwhile if Arsenal can buy a better player for the money — and the chances of that are low.

    To get £35m for the Ox and reinvest that in another player would buy us about one leg belonging to Mbappe for example. (I know Mbappe is not a direct comparison to the Ox, but the principle is there). What? you scoff at the idea of buying just one leg? Frankly some of us think we have more than our fair share of one legged players.

    Th cost of a good player starts at £60m, and the very good have a price ticket of £100m and the excellent? Take a look at Neymar’s £200m – and I am not sure he is even an excellent player.

    That is why Chelsea and ‘Pool see the Ox as a snip at £35m — or nothing, (like Sanchez and Özil) if those clubs wait until the end of the season.

  6. Good morning folks, Yogi “Quickly” and “Rapidly” are words and concepts totally alien to the thinking of UEFA and FIFA.

  7. The proposed earlier closing of the summer transfer window will only apply to deals between Premiership clubs. Which will leave the rest of the football world free to sign our best players, after the start of our season, at reduced prices as they will face no competition from Premiership clubs.

    There will of course still be a deadline day trolley dash, only a few weeks earlier than at present.

    The Premiership are confident of getting sufficient support among English clubs for the change, not unanimous, but enough to carry the rule change through.

    How long is going to take FIFA and UEFA to get the support of sufficient clubs/national associations to implement a world wide change?

  8. If Chelsea are serious about wanting Oxlade-Chamberlain for £35 million we should insist on them taking Debuchy or Jenkinson as a ready made back-up for a nominal fee, perhaps a trivial £10 million or so.

  9. Bonjour all,

    The Chamberlain device, for 35m? Yes please and thank you very much.
    He reminds me of Giroud in that 70% of the time when Oliver fluffs his lines he looks to the heavens, smacking his hands together and grimaces. While the device tends to droop his head towards the underworld in disbelief as he makes another chance look harder than it should. That said I prefer him to belly button at rwb and I’d be happy for haaaha (Nelson) to be given that spot.

  10. I don’t see us selling the Ox if Alexis also goes …so that’s the key for me.

    I think Sanchez could well agitate for a move & selling both ( to direct competitors ) would be dreadful PR even by Arsenal standards.

    So , one will leave & unless the deadwood decide to move I don’t forsee any new blood arriving.

  11. I have an inkling suspicion that the Ox needs to move to progress.

    Not for playing time, but for a different type of coaching setup.

    Its been apparent for some time now that to succeed at Arsenal, players need to be of a certain mindset, which I don’t think he is.

    I would not be surprised if he goes to another club which has better coaching and finally starts developing his potential.

    At Arsenal I think the coaching setup is not what he needs and he’s stagnating with us.

  12. I like the Ox, but his position is right wing / wing back. He can beat a player for pace, get to the line and whip a ball in.

    He ain’t no midfielder as he loses the ball too often in dangerous areas. His left foot is a standing foot.

    He will develop, but Chelsea want to use him as right wing back, not central midfield. £35 is tempting.

  13. I said yesterday that as a club we dither. It is that dithering that has lead exactly to the conundrum of whether the club accepts a £35m windfall for a bit part player or not. Not that I expect the club to be decisive, well, not in the next week.

    So what should we do? More interestingly, what should we have done?

    In answer to the first, we shouldn’t reject the Chelski offer. We should be clever, and ruthless, and get on the blower to Anfield and see if they want the Ox for £35m, or a shade more. The Ford Cortina is about to pull out of their car park, assuming it still has it wheels, and they will have both a need for a wannabe central midfielder and cash to burn. Notwithstanding last years results (put that down to Watford results etc), Liverpool are not as big as rival as Chelski. We should still be competitive against the scousers, but adding any more to Russians would just open that gap. If Klopp isnt interested, the fallback is selling to Chelski. We then must reinvest in a better player; a first teamer, not a squad player. Not that I expect that to happen.

    But what should we have done? We should have changed the manager 2 years ago and given the Ox and fair crack at the CM role, you know the Ramsey role. After all Ramsey hasn’t been pulling many trees up for 3 years now and a surfiet of elderly celebs are growing older. Under a different manager, the Ox may have made the grade or been cut loose earlier. But we dithered and that didnt happen.

    Pack your bags son, the door is open.

  14. The Ox will certainly do better at another club. His departure will evoke the kind of reaction Hristo Stoichkov had when Barcelona sold Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal. The coaching at Arsenal is stagnant, Alexis knows it and he wants away, the Ox can see it and he wants away.

    Listen to Thierry Henry’s comments on the Leicester game, and he echoed what every reasonable person was saying, its a new season but its the same old Arsenal way playing Arsene’s game.

    2007-8 season or thereabout, with Bendtner, Hleb and co that was the same way we packed on attacks to try to salvage our opening game of the season, after we fell a goal behind.

    I know we have to support the team, but it is crazy when you do the same thing over and over and you expect a different result, some folks term it as insanity, but in reality its the same thing we see every season with Arsene Wenger.

  15. Great post Yogi

    I do not think there are any big clubs in the world where Ox is going the the get guaranteed regular minutes in central midfield. He is unproven and clubs that are hoping to challenge from r big trophies can afford to experiment. I certainly don’t think central midfield is a good position for Ox but if that is what he really wants then he needs to move to a mid table or a smaller club and play the position for a couple of years and then push for a move to a big club. However, I think Ox would be an absolute beast as the RWB for any club in the world that plays with wingbacks. Very few left sided defensive players can handle him 1 on 1 when he is bombing forward with the ball at his feet on the right wing. We are a much more unpredictable and dangerous team when Ox is our RWB. He would take over for Victor Moses and make Chelsea or Liverpool a much more dangerous team and that would hurt Arsenal.

  16. The way he plays right now Ox loses the ball to often to be a good central midfielder. IMO. Its much more dangerous for a club if you lose the ball in central midfield. Perhaps he could learn with time but big clubs where ever point is important can’t afford to give him time to develop in that position. Chelsea or Arsenal can’t just stick him in central midfield for a couple months to see how it might work.

  17. Afternoon,

    I wish I was able to just close my eyes and the transfer window would be closed. At least then we will know the squad we have to deal with this season. Its going to be interesting to see whether we bite on some of the bids being offered for players like Ox and Alexis. I would prefer that we get rid of players like Gibbs, Jenks and Debuchy but I don’t think that is going to happen. It doesn’t make much sense to me that we are going to sell players who have some use to the team and end up keeping the players who will not get a game, but this is the position we have put ourselves in with our inability to efficiently manage player contracts. I’ve got the feeling that next summer will be a disaster with all of the expiring contract players off at the same time, which is why I think we will likely accept bids for Alexis and OX now.

  18. Bill,

    Chelsea clearly worked with Moses on the defensive part of his game and I would guess that Ox at RWB would be a significant upgrade given similar training. I think Ox is going to have to accept that he is better suited to the right side of pitch and get on with it. He seems to be another player that Wenger has indulged by bigging up the player’s desire to play through the middle, much as he did with Walcott wanting to be a striker. If Wenger had worked at convincing Ox that his best position is on the right side of the pitch he might have had more chance of getting him to stay, but I think he has already burnt his bridges there.

  19. Morning all.
    Nice writeup Yw, but I disagree with certain things you said. Lets ask ourselves, when was the last time a major rival in the EPL sold a first team player to arsenal? I honestly don’t recall, last time I checked, mourinho blocked demba ba’s loan move to arsenal while at chelsea even though the player spent the rest of the season on the bench and chelsea had to pay his wages.

    Liverpool refused selling suarez to us despite the fact that we activated his transfer clause for the simple reason, you never ever ever ever strengthen a direct rival.

    I recall a time Liverpool came calling for Gabriel heinz then at man utd, sir alex refused to sell to Liverpool and instead sold heinz to Madrid for a much less money than Liverpool were offering. Same reason.

    Am really amazed at how a lot of readers here are suggesting we sell the ox for that fee to a direct rival, when Monaco are asking for over 50m for lemar that had one good season in Monaco over a player that has arguably been our best player since wenger switched to 3 at the back. PATHETIC..

    Lets ask ourselves this, what happens when injury strikes as usual? Who would play at rwb when Bellerin gets injured, debuchy? Jenkinson or Nelson? Funny.

    This is player that singlehandedly creats opportunities out of nothing, a player with unbelievable stamina, technique, pace, an eye for a pass, and currently in the form of his life.

    A player that has won us countless points even when the team isn’t in form. (the utd game at Old Trafford last season)

    Sorry guys, but I would sell ozil,ramsey, welbeck, IWOBI, Wilshere Wallcott Xhaka,cazorla, elneny, kolasinac, ospina Bellerin Monreal, holding, Gabriel, mustaphi, giroud and Perez before ever considering selling the Ox

    My opinion though….

  20. Wavey

    I don’t really trust Arsene’s judgement more then anyone. We have been hearing that Ox wants to play central midfield for years and Arsene is the most aggressive manager in the world with given younger players chances but there has to be a reason that Arsene has not really given Ox a whole lot of minutes in that position. Its analogous to the whole Theo to CF issue. We all wondered why Theo was not given any chances at his preferred position for all of those years but once it finally happened it became obvious that Arsene was right about not using Theo in that position.

  21. Bill,

    Then perhaps Wenger needs to actually tell the players that he doesn’t see them in that role rather than trying to stroke their egos by appearing to be willing to indulge their fantasies. He makes plenty of noise about Walcott being able to play as a striker, or Ox as a central midfielder and then doesn’t play them there. It sends mixed messages to the player when he should be clearly stating where he is expecting the player to play. What is the point in indulging Walcott’s desire to play as striker and then dropping him from the team completely when he can’t hack it up top?

  22. Bill,

    I totally agree, as I alluded to earlier. In fact, I think the Ox would be better placed going to Liverpool than Chelsea. I suspect he would get more minutes on the pitch and Klopp would probably invest more in his development. Really cannot see him getting that much more playing time at Chelski than he gets at Arsenal.

  23. Wavey,

    I agree. Some clarity and decisiveness would help manage these players and their expectations. Ox is a very effective RWB. But he certainly wouldn’t play RB in a back 4. I think Bellerin has the edge as a defender and for his passing. So if we have Kolasinac on the left bombing forward, we might need Bellerin defending on the right. He was pretty woeful at this v Leicester however. Tough one. But if Ox won’t sign, we should sell. He isn’t likely to make the difference between top 4 or not or title challenging or not this season. A CM however might make a bigger difference.

  24. Quality post!

    Lets be honest, if Ox wants to play centrally then going to Chelsea is a terrible move as Kante is only 26 years old and Bakayoko is only 22 years old and he isn’t better than either with Bakayoko being probably the closest thing to Toure but more defensive and with a massive engine but he isn’t better than either of them and both are only set to enter their prime or only starting to tap into his massive potential.

    With that said, 35m for Ox is a brilliant piece of business especially if it get re-invested into the squad whether its for a CM or Dembele or Celtic.

  25. Limestone

    Its hard for me to understand how you could watch last season and still rate Bellerin as a solid defensive player on the right wing.


    I don’t know what Arsene says to players in training but Ox has been around for almost 6 years now and it has to be pretty clear to Ox that Arsene does not rate him as a central midfielder. Same with Theo at CF. I am a fan of Ox but if he is really holding out and will only sign if a contract if he is given assurances that he will be a central midfielder then we need to sell him. Just hopefully not to Chelsea or even Liverpool. Him playing on the RW for either team will make them better.

  26. Bill,

    Before his injury he was very good in the first half of the season. His defending and pace deteriorated after injury–seemed he was rushed back because we had no depth at his position (we were playing Gabriel as RB?!). So far it is too early to tell this season if Bellerin is back to the high standards he set for the first 12-15 months as a starter. I don’t think he helped his case v Leicester. I’m not sure, but I think Ox will get time at RWB too once we have more CB’s back and Sead goes to LWB.

  27. Limestone.

    We see different things when we watch the same players. I always thought Bellerin value was making overlapping runs down the wing when we play 4at the back. I never thought he was a good defender and he clearly deteriorated last season. The thing about rushing back from injury is over thinking.

  28. Bill,

    I thought he improved as a defender. After his injury, he suffered seriously for pace which undermined his recovery runs back. I don’t think it is overthinking at all. He wasn’t 100% and Ox was better as RWB. But Bellerin is better as a RB because he defends better than Ox typically. So he was dropped when we changed formation before recovering his position. I think it is early to judge this season how either of them will be this season this season. We have still a pretty small sample in this formation and they each split time already. I think for some games each had his advantages over the other. I admitted he had a poor game covering his flank v Leicester. So I am open to revising my view on his defensive performance in a few weeks.

  29. On a totally different matter, I just watched the BBC clip of the top 5 PL scorers of all time. TH14 is 5th on the list with his 177 goals. Considering his limited playing time in the PL, compared to Lampard, Cole, Rooney and Shearer, it’s easy to see that he could have easily been second on that list. Shrek is second with 199. Henry may even have got close to Shearer’s 260, but we will never know!

  30. Stu,

    It is a fair bet that 3 more years with Arsenal rather than Barca and he has around 50-60 more PL goals.

  31. while we are struggling to sell Gibbs, jekinson and debuchy…. Fulham has rejected a 25million bid from Tottenham for their 17 yrs old left back… Ryan sessegnon

  32. Limestonegunner,

    My thoughts exactly. Would have put Henry on around 230 goals….just one more cracking season away from Shearer’s record.

    Just watched the other BBC clip about the first year of the PL. I had forgotten that Oldham stayed up on the last day, sending Palace down.

  33. Limestone

    Fair enough. I never thought Bellerin was a great defender even at RB. Pace is a good thing but when part of your defending strategy is based on make up pace then you are always going to struggle to be a good defender. I have not played that much football but I know that your ability to defend is severely diminished when you are running back towards your own goal. You can’t be watching and reading the game or see what is behind you or anticipate the runs an opponent might make when your #1 thought is to try and get back on the correct side of the ball.

  34. Bill,

    I agree, Wenger has no confidence in either Ox or Walcott through the middle in their respective areas of the pitch. It seems so strange that he has talked up them playing in those positions to the press in the past. He has regularly talked about Walcott playing as a striker and Ox as a central midfielder.

  35. Gnabry has generally looked the part for Hoffenheim against Liverpool tonight. I thought the penalty was a bit of a dive, but he has looked a threat. Would have preferred to have Gnabry as one of our wide options and send Iwobi out on loan.

  36. It’s the premier league that’s needs to catch up, by reducing the number of teams, in the top flight, reducing the number of domestic cups, introducing a winter break and focus on supporting our teams in Europe. We need to introduce b teams into the football league pyramid. We are so way behind on this that we think throwing in a stupid little rule every season is an improvement. We have the finest product for sale at the moment, but complacency is a terrible thing. I just hope the football chiefs are preparing for brexit, like every other business, it can be a great move for our leagues if we prepare correctly and start acting now.

  37. Have never posted before but wanted to say thanks to all who have contributed above. I have really found this article and the subsequent replies very interesting. The closing weeks of this transfer window are going to be very interesting too!

  38. I’m sorry brother to say that blogs can very easily worsen an already critical situation. to me and to logic, The Ox has proven that his value to Arsenal is simply immeasurable. i don’t know how you judge, but truly speaking, the boy has been doing very well. he really is an impact player, someone whose attitude bodes well with what Sanchez missed from his team mates last season ‘passion’. Chambo is British, brutish in approach to football, and everything i would ever expect from a committed player every time he steps into the pitch. Guys stop chasing away good players by negative talk. I hope noone in the decision making board ever gets influenced by such blogs

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