Arsenal win race for Oxlade-Chamberlain
Published 23:01 09/06/11 By Darren Lewis - EXCLUSIVE
Arsene Wenger has struck back in the battle for Britain’s best youngsters by landing £12million Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The highly-rated Southampton winger, who doesn't turn 18 until August, has jetted off on holiday in the knowledge that he will be confirmed as an Arsenal player on July 1.
The deal for the Southampton academy graduate - seen as the new Theo Walcott, also a former Saint - is understood to be based on achievements and appearances.
His signing is a coup for Wenger after he lost out to Sir Alex Ferguson in the race to get Blackburn’s Phil Jones this week.
Ferguson had planned on adding Oxlade-Chamberlain to his signing of Jones and the impending capture of Aston Villa’s Ashley Young, but Wenger has stolen a march.
Arsenal have held a long-term interest in the England Under-21 international and went close to signing him in January.
The player stayed on the south coast, however, and helped Saints gain promotion to the Championship.
Liverpool have since joined the race for his services, but Arsenal have been aided by the insistence of the teen’s father Mark - who won eight England caps playing for Stoke - that he learn under Wenger.
Saints have no pressing need to sell, but it is understood the Chamberlain camp believe this is the right time for the player to move.
Mark said earlier this month: “Considering where he was at the beginning of the season and end of last season, to have the clubs we’ve been hearing about looking at him, he’s made great strides.
“But watching him and watching his performances I think it’s well deserved.
“He’s only going to get better. A lot of people speak to me and say, ‘Maybe it’s too soon - look at Theo.’ But for me, I think Theo’s doing fantastic, he’s developing as a player, he’s still developing and he’s only young.
“To develop at a place like Arsenal can’t be a bad thing. In my eyes, I’d like him to go there as soon as possible, and continue his development.”