At the age of just 16 years and 199 days, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made his senior debut for Southampton during the 2009-2010 League 1 season.
In doing so, he became the second youngest player to ever appear for the club behind Theo Walcott, with the pair now being team-mates at Arsenal.
Oxlade-Chamberlain joined the Gunners in August 2011, after performing brilliantly for Southampton during the 2010-2011 season. He ended that having scored nine goals in 34 appearances, whilst being named in the PFA League One Team of the Year, as he defied his tender years to deliver a series of assured and mature displays.
Arriving at Arsenal
As a result Oxlade-Chamberlain alerted the biggest club’s in England of his prodigious talent as a powerful, quick and skilful winger, with a fine goal-scoring touch. Subsequently Arsenal prised the then 17-year-old away from Southampton for a fee reported to be in the region of £12m, which at the time represented the highest transfer fee ever received by the Saints.
In his first season with Arsenal Oxlade-Chamberlain’s development as a player gathered momentum. He became the youngest ever English player to score in the Champions League, doing so on his debut in the competition against Olympiakos, whilst producing a number of other superb performances, full of physical tenacity and powerful attacking play.
That earned him his first international call-up, as he was named among England’s 23-man squad for the 2012 European Championships, during which he made one start and two substitute appearances. Those remain his only appearances in a major international tournament, since despite being a member of England’s squad for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Oxlade-Chamberlain missed all three of his country’s games with a knee injury.
Development hampered by injury
Testament to Oxlade-Chamberlain’s strength of character and resolve, he recovered from that injury to start the 2014-2015 season with Arsenal as he helped the club to win both the Community Shield and F.A Cup.
Despite that due to a combination of indifferent form and injury setbacks, Oxlade-Chamberlain was unable to establish himself as a regular in Arsenal’s first team, with that continuing to be very much the case for the player today.
Ultimately during his Arsenal career he has displayed the type of form which saw him spectacularly burst onto the scene with Southampton but only sporadically.
Potential to shine for Arsenal
Nevertheless, in doing so Oxlade-Chamberlain has illustrated that he still possesses the potential to become a key player for Arsenal and one who can flourish during the club’s 2016-2017 campaign, after scoring with a wonderful chipped finish to earn the Gunners a 1-1 draw in their first pre-season game against Lens.
Should the 22-year-old be able to avoid injury, given his undeniable talent and Arsene Wenger’s commitment to patiently nurturing that, then Oxlade-Chamberlain can go on to enjoy a prolonged run of games in Arsenal’s first team.
In terms of working to earn that opportunity, Oxlade-Chamberlain has made a very positive start with his excellent performance during Arsenal’s draw with Lens, which he will now look to build upon in the Gunners next pre-season friendly against MLS All Stars, so as to best prepare himself for the forthcoming competitive season. That begins for Arsenal on 14 August with a home Premier League game against Liverpool.