Thursday 19 July 2018

Arsenal will listen to offers for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Kieran Gibbs this summer

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Jeremy Wilson

Arsenal’s heralded British core is under increasing threat this summer, with the club preparing to listen to offers for both Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

Theo Walcott’s future could also become uncertain if he cannot win back his place from Danny Welbeck or Alex Iwobi and, while Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere, Calum Chambers and Carl Jenkinson are less likely to leave, they are all facing a battle for first-team football.

Arsenal are interested in renewing their British presence this summer by adding Ben Chilwell at left-back from Leicester City and Ryan Sessegnon from Fulham, as well as Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka, a centre-back and potentially a striker.

Gibbs has lost his left-back place to Nacho Monreal and, amid competition from Leighton Baines, Ryan Bertrand and Danny Rose, was also not selected in the initial England squad for the most recent matches against Germany and Holland.

Injury ruled Oxlade-Chamberlain out of that squad but he has also struggled this season for first-team football and is aware that Southampton would like to bring him back to St Mary’s this summer following his £15 million move to Arsenal five years ago. Despite moments of promise, Oxlade-Chamberlain has so far not developed as hoped at Arsenal and, with two years left on his contract, this summer could be the moment to make a fresh start.

He has previously also interested Chelsea and Manchester City and will review his future at the end of the season.

Walcott is also uncertain of his place in England’s Euro 2016 squad amid a lack of match time at Arsenal. He did, however, sign a new contract at Arsenal last year and the sense remains that he is well settled and still hoping to force his way back into the team.

That situation, however, would have to be reconsidered if he remains behind Welbeck and Iwobi for Wenger’s starting team. Walcott has been at Arsenal now for more than 10 years, with Wenger suggesting last week that he was still uncertain whether centre forward or right wing was his main position.

"The problem with Theo is he wants to play on the right and through the middle,” said Wenger. “You have to fix yourself somewhere. When he doesn’t go through the middle, he thinks maybe for me it’s better on the right.

"It’s true that at some stage I fixed him more through the middle, because of the quality of his runs, the intelligence of his runs, and he has improved a lot his finishing. He can be a player through the middle and on the flanks today you have to work very hard defensively. I know that he’s striker.

“At the moment for him, for Olivier Giroud, it’s a bit more difficult. But that’s part of the competition. It can change very quickly from one week to the next. Theo has gone through a much more difficult period but he will come back.”

Some uncertainty also remains about when Wilshere will return from his broken fibula, although he should again play for the under-21 team on Thursday against Swansea City after making his comeback last Friday. England manager Roy Hodgson is still keen to include Wilshere in his European Championship squad if he can prove his fitness.

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