Message Of Intent – Why Signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain Will Be A Huge Statement By Stoke City
Arsenal midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has emerged as a shock transfer target for Stoke City – yes, you read that right. According to a report from the Sun, the Potters are in negotiations with the player’s agent over a possible £25million summer move.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has been a subject of much transfer speculation of late, as he has entered the final year of his contract with the Gunners. Several Premier League bigwigs like Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool are all monitoring his situation, waiting for an opportunity to make a move (Sky Sports). And now, Stoke too are plotting a highly ambitious swoop for the England international.
Last season was a bit of a letdown for the Potters, after having established themselves as an upper-table club under Hughes in recent years. But a 13th place finish and disappointing runs in the Cups have put the Welshman under some amount of pressure heading into the new campaign.
Stoke are a bit thinly stretched in their attacking options, following the departures of veteran Jonathan Walters to Burnley and Marko Arnautovic’s transfer to West Ham United. Manager Mark Hughes just has Xherdan Shaqiri and Ibrahim Afellay – both of whom are injury prone, and the young, unproven Ramadan Sobhi to call upon as options on the flank. So, their interest in Oxlade-Chamberlain is very much justified.
The 23-year old enjoyed one of his finest seasons in an Arsenal shirt last season, scoring 6 goals and registering 11 assists from 45 games in all competitions. The Ox’s amazing versatility came to the fore as in the last campaign, as Arsene Wenger used him in several positions – on either flank, in the central midfield and as a right wing-back towards the end of the season. He excelled in all the roles that the manager used him in, which is one of the major reasons why he has been attracting so much interest from the Gunners’ rivals.
He has also cemented his place as a regular in the England national team as well, under manager Gareth Southgate and has made 27 appearances for the Three Lions, scoring 6 goals. Oxlade-Chamberlain, for long, has been regarded very highly, as a player with immense potential. Last season marked his coming of age as he is finally started to put in strong performances one after the other on a consistent basis.
The player has made no secret of the fact that he has considered leaving the club in order to gain regular playing time.
“I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t crossed my mind that I need more game time,” he told Sky Sports in October last year.As a footballer, you want to play every game. Me being myself, I’m not happy when I’m not playing.
“There is going to come a time in my career – and I think I’m approaching that – when I do need to be getting more regular football. There comes a time in your career where you have to re-evaluate things and think, ‘Is that going to be here or elsewhere?’”
With the FIFA World Cup so close, it is natural for any player to fall into this train of thought as nobody would want to miss out on a chance to represent their nation on the biggest stage in football. Regular football is what Oxlade-Chamberlain will be getting at Stoke City, much more than what he would get at Chelsea or Liverpool.
Stoke will have to break the club-record for transfer fee if they are to sign the 23-year old from Arsenal as the Gunners will demand somewhere around the £25million mark for him. That might not be very difficult, considering the windfall from Arnautovic’s sale and the TV rights money that all the Premier League clubs have received. But convincing the player to move to the Bet365 Stadium will be the biggest challenge for Hughes and Stoke, as it would be viewed as a step-down from one of the top clubs to a mid-table side.
However, if Stoke manage to clinch the deal, it will, without a doubt, be one of the biggest coups in the history of the club, which they are quite capable of doing – case in point the capture of Xherdan Shaqiri. Bringing in Oxlade-Chamberlain will address their issues in the attack and will be a big statement signing from the Potters. But the question remains, can they pull it off?