Southampton legend Lawrie McMenemy believes that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is already better than Theo Walcott was at his age, with the youngster making an impressive start to the season after moving to Arsenal in the summer.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has followed Walcott’s career path to the Gunners, plying his trade at Southampton before making a big money move to north London in the transfer window.
And while some believed he may have needed time to adapt to the Barclays Premier League, Oxlade-Chamberlain has already made a positive impression, scoring in both England and Europe.
And McMenemy, who managed Southampton to their 1976 FA Cup win, says that Oxlade-Chamberlain is showing a potential that if realised, will make him even better than fans' favourite Walcott.
"He is like Theo Walcott but a stronger version," McMenemy said.
"Alan Ball used to see Theo every week, and he used to say he had speed, but needs to learn to play with other players. But I think that Alex has got that already at 18.
"He is a genuine team player. That's his strength. For his age he is a more complete player than Theo."
Oxlade-Chamberlain’s father, Mark, was also a footballer, and made over 160 appearances for Portsmouth before returning 14 years later to the club as a coach. And McMenemy believes that this influence has helped the 18-year-old get to the point where he is challenging established top-tier players.
"You can tell that his dad was a pro. And I think that that has helped off the field, especially these days in preparing him against any mistakes he may have made himself - not to fall into that,” he explained.
“Look at the others who have come in at 15, 16, 17, and their families have never been involved in football and are a bit goggle eyed. But he will be getting advice: 'Don't do that, do this, listen to what you are told'.
“He could not have gone to a better club than Arsenal. I had wondered how long he would take to get into the first team but he is already there."
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