Oxlade-Chamberlain injury blow as Wenger admits Arsenal age fear
Arsenal fear Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will require surgery during the summer after the midfielder suffered an injury setback that has ruled him out of the FA Cup semi-final tie against Reading at Wembley.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger revealed that Oxlade-Chamberlain is suffering from inflammation of his groin as a result of the hamstring injury that has kept the midfielder out since the start of last month. Oxlade-Chamberlain has struggled with hamstring and groin injuries all season, which has prompted concern that he may need an operation to solve the problem if an alternative cure cannot be found.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is Wenger's only injury worry after Jack Wilshere, Mikel Arteta and Abou Diaby all came through an under-21s game ahead of tomorrow's Premier League trip to Burnley.
Despite the fact Wilshere has been out since November with an ankle injury, Manchester City are interested in signing the 23-year-old this summer as they attempt to overhaul their ageing squad.
Arsenal have lost Samir Nasri, Bacary Sagna, Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure and Gael Clichy to City in recent years, but Wenger insists he no longer has to worry about City's spending plans, particularly as Wilshere is contracted until 2018.
"We are not in a position anymore where we have to sell our best players," said Wenger. "I don't know what Manchester City is doing and I don't really care. I don't have to care. We have only long contracts with our players, 90 per cent of our players."
Wilshere is attractive to City because of his age and the fact he is English. Of the 10 outfield players who started in the defeat by Crystal Palace on Monday, only 26-year-old Sergio Aguero and captain Vincent Kompany were under 29. Kompany celebrates his 29th birthday today.
Wenger admitted he has to be careful to ensure his Arsenal squad never get too old and claimed a team with too many 30-year-olds would eventually "die together". Asked whether he builds his teams for the future or for the present, Wenger replied: "You like to do both. Yes, of course, it is possible. We signed players like Sanchez and Ozil to perform now.
"We have as well players like Bellerin and Chambers who are 20. The financial potential should allow you to combine both. It's something we look at each year. When all your main players get close to 30, you can't buy a 30-year-old player. You have to buy a player who is 22 or 23. If you buy another player of 30, they all die together."
Wenger inherited an ageing squad when at Arsenal in 1996, but has had more difficulties with his team being too young, rather than too old, over the past decade.
"We had more the other problems," he said. "When we had the period of restricted finances, we had to sell the players when they started to perform. You pay for experience. A player becomes a player at 23 or 24, but if you have to sell them at 23 or 24, you feel you work for other clubs.
"I had eight players who were over 29 when I arrived here. You could send them on the coach and say come back after the game - that was possible because they knew the job. When they leave, you lose knowledge - a top-level player is intelligent.
"Intelligence means that he learns from every game and that at 30 years old, he uses better his qualities than at 22. He does what is important and where he can be useful to the team.
"As a manager, in the long term and short term, you have to say, 'OK we can win the league', but you cannot go without planning for the future. So the players we buy this summer have to be bit younger - they cannot be 29 or 30."
Arsenal transfer negotiator Dick Law has visited Argentina to try to finalise a deal to sign Maxi Romero, a 16-year-old who has been described as "the new Lionel Messi". (©Daily Telegraph, London)