Theo Walcott, Gareth Bale, maybe it’s something in the water but Southampton seem to have gotten a knack recently in producing young, promising British talent. The latest one to emerge is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, a 17-year old lad who only signed his first professional contract in August and, until a couple of months ago, most people hadn’t heard of.
As you’d expect he’s been linked with all the big clubs in England in recent weeks, with Arsenal and Chelsea seeming at this stage to be the favourites to get him onto their books. But don’t rule United out of the running, who have had a transfer policy in the last couple of years of paying not insignificant amounts on promising youngsters. As ESPN Soccernet have reported (link here)
“Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he rates Southampton flyer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain very highly, although the Manchester United manager refused to confirm whether the club was in the running for his signature.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has attracted praise from several quarters, with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger stating his admirations for the 17-year-old.
United travel to St Mary’s on Saturday for their fourth round FA Cup clash and Chamberlain’s performance is likely to be monitored closely by Ferguson.
“Yes the boy’s got potential of course and he’s only young,” he said. “Southampton have done very well over the years bringing young players through. He’s another one, along with Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott.
“Before that they had the Wallace brothers and Alan Shearer. They have been good at that [producing players]. They have done a lot right.”
Meanwhile, Nigel Adkins is positive Southampton will fend off interest in the star duri
ng the January transfer window.
“I expect him to still be here on Tuesday after the transfer window has closed,” Adkins said of the 17-year-old. “He is one of several very good players we have here and there’s always speculation about talented players. We are not looking to sell him.”
Adkins had words of warning for the player and his advisors, as he said: “Some players move on to bigger clubs and their potential is not always allowed to flourish.”
Alan Smith has also sung the lads praises in the Telegraph today, highlighting him as one of the three danger men that United need to watch out for tomorrow (link here):
“…the man of the moment (or should we say boy?) in that Arsenal, Liverpool and Saturday’s opponents are all very keen to acquire his services.
No surprise either when you hear that the 17 year-old has been breaking sprint records set by Theo Walcott at Southampton a few years ago. That is quick. Ridiculously so.
And when respected observers say that Oxlade-Chamberlain is more technically gifted than Walcott at the same age, that he delivers a better final ball, there is good reason to believe the lad is going places.
In the immediate future, that place could be behind United’s left-back, if Southampton get enough ball in the final third. Able to go either way on the front foot, he should certainly make his opponent think twice about getting in a race.”
So who knows, maybe we’ll see Mr Oxlade-Chamberlain put in a “shop window” performance tomorrow, I’m really interested in seeing how he plays and how Fergie sets up to deal with the threat that he poses. With only a few days to go until the end of the transfer window, and with our rivals in hot pursuit of the player, perhaps we’ll make a move. I was gutted when we missed out on Walcott, Bale, and Ramsey; let’s not make it another one, eh?
Would Oxlade-Chamberlain be a good signing? Have you seen him play yet? Is he going to live up to the hype?