Arsenal close in on £12m Oxlade-Chamberlain deal
Arsenal were poised to complete the £12m signing of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Southampton yesterday and also hope to confirm two further additions to their squad this week.
As well as Oxlade-Chamberlain, they are close to signing Joel Campbell as a replacement for Nicklas Bendtner, while Arsene Wenger remains determined to add one more centre-back.
The need for a new defender has been further heightened by injuries during their final friendly of the summer against Benfica on Saturday to Kieran Gibbs and Thomas Vermaelen. Gibbs suffered a thigh strain and is likely to miss the first game of the season against Newcastle, but Vermaelen is hoping to be available after coming off as a precaution with back pain.
Vermaelen may be asked to play left-back against Newcastle if, as expected, Gibbs is ruled out, although there is also the option of Armand Traore.
Negotiations for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who will be 18 next Monday, have been protracted, with Southampton understood to have been holding out for a sell-on fee of around 40pc. However, further talks have resulted in an agreement being neared on a deal that would involve Arsenal paying around £7m up front and then a further £5m dependent on various performance-related add-ons.
The deal should be completed this week, with personal terms expected to be a formality. After such a difficult summer, the signing of Oxlade-Chamberlain represents a considerable coup for Arsenal. Liverpool had an offer turned down in January, while Manchester United also asked to be kept informed of any deal's progress.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has always made it clear that his preference is for Arsenal and, although he is unlikely to feature prominently in the Premier or Champions League this season, he will be given his chance in the Carling Cup and potentially the FA Cup.
Campbell, a 19-year-old Costa Rica striker, would also be a signing largely for the long-term and will cost around £1m.
Phil Jagielka remains Arsenal's preferred choice at centre-back but, with Everton so far rejecting two bids, Wenger will consider Blackburn's Chris Samba or Bolton's Gary Cahill.
Robin van Persie also suffered an injury scare in Benfica.
The forward came off with an ankle injury after scoring Arsenal's goal but will report for international duty with Holland and is expected to be fit to play Newcastle on Saturday. (© Daily Telegraph, London)