Arsenal right-back Bacary Sagna’s contract is set to expire in the summer and with no agreement yet to be reached, the Gunners are looking at possible replacements for the 30-year-old Frenchman. One of the names that have come up recently is that of Southampton youngster Calum Chambers.
The 19-year-old has progressed through the ranks at the South coast club after joining them when he was 7. He is part of the latest group of graduates from the Southampton academy along with the likes of Luke Shaw, James Ward-Prowse, Harrison Reed, Matt Targett and Sam Gallagher. While the first two have already established themselves as integral parts of the first team, Chambers too is on the track to do so.
Chambers, who started out as a right sided midfielder for the Southampton youth sides, made his first team breakthrough this season and has gone on to make 17 appearances in the Premier League and 2 appearances in the League Cup, compared to last season where he made a solitary appearance in the cup. Even though Chambers is yet to score or assist any goals, he has gained a fair amount of recognition for his performances with him relegating first-choice right-back Nathaniel Clyne to the bench against Chelsea being the highlight of this season.
Chambers has played down the right for the enterity of his career and he uses his pace to bomb down the right channel and support the attack. Owing to his time as a midfielder in the youth ranks, he is more attack-minded even in his role as the fullback. He is capable of using his acceleration to get past opposition fullbacks and looks to get crosses into the box for his teammates. He looks to exploit the space created by Southampton’s narrow midfield but his final delivery is inconsistent and needs work.
At 1.83m tall, Chambers has got the build to challenge for aerial balls, and has won 53% of the 57 aerial duels he has attempted this season. He has good upper body strength that allows him to win 50/50 duels and is able to out-muscle his opponents. He is also very good in terms of tackling and more often than not he comes out with the ball when he goes into a tackle. He has won 63% of the 52 tackles he has attempted this season, which is excellent for a young fullback.
Despite his attacking instincts, Chambers has the willingness and composure to stay back and help out his team in his primary role as a defender. His passing is neat (79% accuracy) and he tends to pick the right passes more often than not despite his tender age. He has made a lot of defensive contributions this season – 71 clearances, 32 interceptions and 4 blocks, i.e. an average of 6.3 defensive actions per appearance.
Chambers has all the qualities required for the making of a good fullback in the modern game, and as he continues to play in the right back role, his positional sense is bound to improve and he is only likely to get better. If Arsenal does sign him now, they will be getting a player who is far from the finished article and will require time to develop. A move to another Premier League club or even a Championship side to get regular first team football may be more beneficial for him rather than a move to the Emirates right now.
Chambers is clearly a diamond in the rough and if Arsene Wenger manages to polish him in the right manner, he may become a mainstay of the Arsenal side in the decade to come. However, he is not the man Arsenal should be looking at to replace the departing Bacary Sagna right now.
Stats Via Squawka