Watching the Fulham v Tottenham game at the weekend, the stand out performer dominating the middle of the park was Calum Chambers.
The on loan Arsenal man was one of the few outstanding players in a very poor Fulham team. It had many calling for his return to the club in the summer.
Chambers turned 24 a couple of days ago and signed a new 4-year-deal back in July last year.
After a good start to his Arsenal career, he has struggled to nail down a place in the squad. Fulham is his second loan deal after a year spent in Middlesbrough during their 2016/17 relegation season.
What should Arsenal do with the not-so-young-central defender?
Keep, replace Laurent Koscielny
Club captain Laurent Koscielny rolled back the years against Chelsea, but team is clearly running out for the old dog.
Most Arsenal fans want a strong, first choice centre back to partner Sokratis in the long term. We can all agree that Calum Chambers is not that man. Neither is Shkodran Mustafi. Rob Holding has arguably moved ahead of Koscielny, Mustafi and Chambers.
In 2019/20 Koscielny will be, at best, 4th choice centre back being Sokratis, Mustafi/replacement and Rob Holding. Could Calum Chambers return and be 4th choice central defender? Certainly.
Keep, replace Mohamed Elneny
At Fulham, Calum Chambers joined as a centre back but was soon moved to central midfield. It was in the middle of the park he ran the game for Fulham against Tottenham.
He was composed on the ball, short and long passing, as well as stopping Tottenham attacks at will. He was Man of the Match.
Arsenal’s current midfield options are Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi, Mohamed Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles. Could Calum Chamber take Elneny’s place in the squad? Certainly.
Cover Hector Bellerin
Roll back to 2014 when Arsenal signed Chambers for £16million, he was a right back – having made 22 Premier League appearances for Southampton in 2013/14.
With Stephan Lichsteiner set to leave in the summer, and Hector Bellerin’s injury, we clearly need to address the right back situation next season.
Maitland-Niles is an option at right back, and will surely get his chance in the coming weeks and months. Could Calum Chambers provide cover to Hector Bellerin? Certainly.
All of the above
So he could be 4th choice centre back, 4th choice central midfielder and 2/3rd choice right back. Is this a role that he could play in one go, covering depending who is injured? Certainly.
The final option is sell.
After his string of performances, Arsenal could easily get £20million or more for a home grown, 24-year-old player.
At Premier League level who would be a regular starter for a mid-to-lower league team, or a newly promoted one.
You could see him fitting in at Derby County. He was heavily linked with a £16million move to Crystal Palace last season.
The likes of Bournemouth have spent big in January for players who are inferior to Chambers (£19milion for Dominic Solanke!). He would certainly get into their team, as well as Brighton and West Ham.
If we sold him, there would be no shortage of takers.
Arsenal have been awful at selling players in recent years. We have let over £200m worth of talent exit, getting little in return.
Imagine the scenario. We get £20million for Chambers; we also sell Mustafi. We could get in the region of £35million for a Premier League, international proven central defender. That is £55million bought in selling a central defender not currently in the squad, and one more that we can improve on.
That total could then go towards a new defender.
For £55million+ we could get a quality central defender. There are not too many defenders in the world that would be out of our reach.
You then have the new central defender, Sokratis, Holding, Koscielny and Mavropanos as the options.
Should we learn our lesson with Chambers. Cash in on a player who will never quite be good enough, and reinvest that elsewhere on someone that improves our first team without weakening the squad? Certainly.
I would keep all options on the table.