What Should Arsenal Do With Calum Chambers?


Arsenal have been charged by the FA over the transfer of Calum Chambers last summer (via ESPNFC) and despite Arsene Wenger downplaying it and the club insisting they did everything in good faith, Arsenal are still going to be forced to provide some answers in a situation that is starting to get a little muddy.

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Calum Chambers is now 20 years old and was elated at the move to Arsenal, citing Arsene Wenger as one of the main reasons he made the move.

In light of all the charges and hoopla, it begs to be considered what exactly Arsene Wenger’s plans are for the quick-rising young Englishman.

Calum Chambers made 28 appearances for Arsenal, all of which occurred before April, when he magically disappeared from Arsenal’s plans. Chambers had been showing excellent progress all year, with the majority of his appearances coming at right back despite his preferred central positioning. Arsene Wenger insists that he plans to play Chambers more centrally but playing him on the right gives him experience and playing time he could not have acquired while sitting in line behind Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and later Gabriel Paulista.

But with how strong Calum Chambers looked at times and how high his ceiling is, can Arsenal really afford to let him disappear again in the 2015/16 season?

Chambers’ ‘disappearance’ came following arguably his best match of the season against Newcastle United on 21 March. The right back led the team with 9 tackles and added four interceptions and four clearances to make it an absolutely dominant match (stats via WhoScored).

And yet, despite that excellent performance, Chambers would only be seen for a 0 minute cameo on 11 April and that would be it.

It is understood that Calum Chambers was never going to be a right back. He lacks the pace and creativity to meet the standards that Arsenal have for the position. Despite netting a goal that shocked everyone, including the announcers, Chambers pales when compared to Hector Bellerin.

So if the center of the pitch is where he is going to play, when can we realistically expect to see him playing it?

Going strictly on age, it could be awhile. Per Mertesacker will be 31 and Laurent Koscielny 30 in September of this year, but while Mertesacker may be on his way out and making way for Gabriel Paulista, Koscielny could feasibly play another handful of years. That leaves Calum Chambers with very limited playing time away from any potential League or FA Cup runs.

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Ideally, Calum Chambers needs to be seeing consistent playing time if he is going to develop properly and the likelihood of him seeing it is pretty slim. Although that does not appear to be bothering Calum Chambers, at least not at the moment, it is not worth the risk.

But what are Arsenal’s options?

The Gunners have three options, as they do for just about any player. The first option is to just keep him in the reserves. He will still be training with the big boys and learning, but his first-team experience will be incredibly lacking. Barring any injuries, his playing time will be scarce and that may become frustrating but at 20 years of age, he does appear to have a fondness for learning.

The second option is to send him out on loan. Plenty of teams would snap up Calum Chambers and give him first-team reps and given what we have seen from Calum thus far into his career, he would make the most of it and raise his stock considerably. While this is an intriguing option and one that I think Arsene Wenger should explore, I do not see him actually loaning out the young defender.

Finally, Arsene Wenger could move Calum Chambers around. While right back and center back are incredibly cluttered, Chambers also has experience playing a defensive midfield role. Of course, that is arguably the most cluttered role on the pitch for Arsenal. The perk there is that when the game gets late and Arsenal need to protect a lead, Calum Chambers can slide in next to Francis Coquelin and provide extra cover.

While Calum Chambers is going to be a center back in the long run, getting him experience at other positions, especially positions directly neighboring his future center back position, will grant him a unique perspective that not many other center backs have had the privilege of seeing. He will know the roles around him and know what he has to do to cover for them.

None of the options lead to much first-team playing time for Arsenal. He’s 20 years old though, so that is not exactly detrimental to his development. He has just shown such progress and such skill that ideally, I would like to see him finding the pitch a bit more often than he did in the last two months of the season.

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