Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that he made his mind up to sign England-Under 19 captain Calum Chambers more than six months ago, before insisting that the £16m man could be equally adept in central midfield despite impressing at centre-back during the Emirates Cup.
Chambers made all of his 22 Premier League appearances for Southampton at right-back before signing for his Arsenal, but made his Emirates bow against Benfica in the centre of defence yesterday and stayed there for today's 1-0 defeat to Monaco.
Arsene's clearly impressed
Wenger was clearly annoyed with that display in his post-match press conference but reserved special praise for Chambers, who he believes showed composure beyond his 19 years in both games.
The Gunners boss told GiveMeSport: "He is one of the players who over the two games played really well. He is not phased by top opponents. He came in here without talking and at 19 played two good games. He is one of the huge satisfactions of this weekend."
January 28th proved pivotal
Wenger also chose to disclose the moment when he first decided that he had to try and sign the Southampton academy starlet, back in January when Arsenal came up against the teenager at St Mary's.
Chambers had a very strong game at right-back in a 2-2 draw between Southampton and Arsenal that night, providing a constant threat for Nacho Monreal and convincing Wenger that he had to make long-term interest concrete.
What is his best position?
"I saw him for the first time against us as a right-back, I made my mind up to buy him them," Wenger revealed.
"He has great mobility and can be a huge distance runner. He was educated as a central midfielder and I believe he can play there."
Versatility is clearly one of the starlet's great strengths and makes him a valuable asset to the Arsenal squad, but in the short-term he may well be needed in central defence.
Defensive options thin on the ground
The FA Cup holders look short in that department less than a fortnight before the Premier League kicks off, with Per Mertesacker enjoying an extended break following World Cup success with Germany.
Club captain Thomas Vermaelen looks likely to move on and is far from full fitness even if he stays, with leaves Laurent Koscienly as the only experienced central defender available for next weekend's Community Shield against Man City next Sunday.
That means Chambers may well be called upon to fill the void at Wembley Stadium as his meteoric rise continues, but from the calm demeanour in possession and awareness of danger he showed at the Emirates Cup that may well turn out to be an unlikely positive for Arsenal ahead of a campaign where the pressure is on to deliver silverware.
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