Transfer news

Arsenal close to Saints starlet deal

January 24, 2011
By ESPNsoccernet staff

The father of Southampton's in-demand teenager Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has confirmed that Arsenal are the "ideal choice" for his son, with reports suggesting a deal could be agreed imminently.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is an England youth international
PA PhotosAlex Oxlade-Chamberlain is an England youth international

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Four years ago, Arsenal beat a number of their Premier League rivals to sign Theo Walcott from Southampton and it appears Arsene Wenger is on the verge of luring away another of the Saints' talented academy products, with the Gunners making a concerted effort to recruit Oxlade-Chamberlain, 17.

While the midfielder has been watched by Liverpool director of football strategy Damien Comolli and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson after scoring six goals in 24 league games for the Saints, he reportedly visited Arsenal's training ground on Friday to hold talks with Wenger and chief executive Ivan Gazidis.

His father, Mark Chamberlain, says Wenger's record of nurturing young players such as Walcott, Aaron Ramsey and Cesc Fabregas means Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to move to North London.

"Arsenal, with the manager there, the way they play and develop players to play the game the right way, I think they are the ideal choice," Chamberlain told Sky Sports News.

"He is coping very well. As you say, it is all speculation, it's the time of the year when things do happen. I think the club, if there is anything happening, will keep us notified."

It is reported that Arsenal will pay an initial £7 million for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who could return to Southampton on loan for the remainder of the season. Wenger has confirmed that he hopes to finalise a deal in January.

"We need an agreement with Southampton, we need an agreement with the player, and we are not the only ones on the case, but we try as hard as we can because I like him as a player,'' Wenger said.

The midfielder will inevitably draw comparisons with Walcott, who left Southampton as a 16-year-old and within six months was a member of the England squad that competed at the 2006 World Cup. However, Oxlade-Chamberlain is a better player, according to his father.

"I am his dad, I have worked with both of them," he said. "They have both got different attributes. Theo has played 100 league games for Arsenal in the Premiership, played for England, scored a hat-trick, so he is a very good player.

"Alexander is a bit different. He is better technically, he is more of a central midfield player rather than a wide player."